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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  April 9, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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david, thank you so much for your expertise. and thanks for being with me. i'm brooke baldwin in new york. let's go to washington with "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. a conflict that could put trump and putin on a collision course. "the lead" starts right now. breaking news, days after saying he wants out syria, president trump is about to hear from his military leaders after an alleged chemical weapons massacre. we're getting a clearer picture, stormy daniels's attorney sketches over someone who threatened her and question about president trump's response to a fire that killed a tenant in his flagship building and where were the sprinklers and why did he lobby against them. >> welcome into the leed.
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we're going to hear from nikki haley. let's listen >> this time i will not hold up pictures. i could. there are many and they are gruesome. worse are the videos imprinted in our minds that one should ever there v to see. i cold hold up pictures of babies lying dead next to hur mothers and brothers and sisters, toddlers and infants still in diapers. all lying together, dead. they're skin is the ashen blue that is now tragically familiar from chemical weapon scenes. their eyes are open and lifeless. white foam bubbles from their mouths and noses. pictures of dead syrians who are not soldiers, people who are not armed. people who are the very definition of innocent and nonthreatening.
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women and children hiding in basements from a renewed assault by bashar al assad. families hiding under ground to escape the conventional bombs and artillery, but the basements that syrian families thought would shelter them from conventional bombs were the worst place to be when chemical weapons fell from the sky. and saturday evening the basements of duma became their tombs. it is impossible to know for certain how much have died because of access to duma is cut off but dozens are dead that we know of and hundreds are wounded. i could hold up pictures of sur viefrs, children with burning eyes and choking for breath. or pictures of first responds washing the chemicals off the victims and putting res perators
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on the first responders walking through room after room of families lying motionless with babies still in the arms of their mothers and fathers. i could show pictures of a hospital attacked by the chemical weapons. i could show pictures of hospitals struck by barrel bombs, following the chemical attack. ambulances and rescue vehicles have been repeatedly attacked. maximizing the number of dead civ civilians. civil defense centers have been attacked to paralyze the medical response to increase the suffering of the survivors. who does this? only a monster does this. only a monster targets civilians and then ensures there are to ambulances to transfer the wounded. no hospitals to save their lives. no doctors or medicine to ease their pain.
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i could hold up pictures of all of this killing, and suffering for the council to see, but what would be the point? the monster who is responsible for these attacks has no conscience, not even to be shocked by pictures of dead children. the russian regime whose hands are all covered in the blood of syrian children cannot be ashamed by pictures of its victims. we've tried that before. we must not overlook russia and iran's roles in enabling the assad regime murderous destruction. russia and iran have -- military -- >> we're going to break away before the u.n. security council and breaking news in, "the new york times" just reported that the fbi raided the office of president trump's long time attorney michael cohen, seizing records related to multiple topics, including on that payment to adult film actress,
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stormy daniels, alleged hush money. "the new york times" reporting that the fbi seized e-mails, tax documents and business records and that the records include communications between michael cohen, the president's attorney and president trump, which would likely require a special team of agents to review because conversations with lawyers and clients are protected in most instances. this is a breaking news story. my panel is here with me to discuss the breaking news. and to react and let me start with you, bill crystal, the fact that the fbi apparently with a referral from bob mule earp, the special counsel is raiding michael cohen's offices seems rather significant. >> and i assume they need a warrant and so a judge would have had to find -- but i'm not a lawyer, but some reasonable reason to do this. they can't just raid offices. so that is interesting. a judge found there was some reason to take a look at the records in cohen's office.
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>> and the new york times is reporting they sized dom-- seiz documents relating to other topics and not just the underlying collusion. >> and as we know on the panel, special counsel mandate here is very broad and can look into anything he would like. this is -- this is going to turn over every rock. robert mueller is thorough. when he did the investigation of ray rice, when ups packages arrived, he is thorough. and that will help when he's done and finds there is no collusion or crime committed. that will maybe everybody rest that much easier. >> and angela, your reaction to michael cohen's office being raided as part of robert mueller probe into a host of things it looks like. >> i don't know if i should react to that or david's
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confidence -- >> it's fake. >> i want this to be on the air -- >> and apple an apple. so no, i think what is interesting and i'm looking at the new york times piece and the search does not appear to be related to the robert mueller investigation. however, what i think is alarming and what should alarm the american people is that there are so many issues of ethics or the lack there of and potential collusion and there are so many issues surrounding this president that it is -- it is just phenomenal at this point that he's able to get anything done. there is issue after issue and they continue to skirt ethics guidelines that every other presidential administration has had to follow. and this piece -- i said on don's show several weeks ago sh the dark and stormy night and this is the longest dark and stormy night we've seen in some time. >> it is stunning just the idea,
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michael cohen is his attorney and usually i would think prosecutors would be very reluctant to raid the offices of the attorney of an individual, even if he is not the target of the investigation, he is in some sort of role in the investigation, president trump. and that would seem to suggest that they have at least some suspicion based on more than a hunch that michael cohen has done something improper because the -- the client-lawyer relationship is generally considered fairly sacrosanct unless there is a legality. >> and this originated in the southern district of new york and not out of robert mueller's office. this is not from the special counsel. the search warrant originated from the southern district is what the article said. >> no, after receiving a referral from the special counsel -- >> i think they have to go to him since he has broader -- >> i'm not going to opine on that. >> we'll bring in more lawyers to talk about that. i want to read a statement from steven ryan, the lawyer for michael cohen.
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today the u.s. attorney's office for the southern district of new york executed a series of search warrants and seized the privilege communications between my client and his clients. i've been advised by federal prosecutors that the new york action is in part of a referral by the office of special counsel robert mueller. i have laura coats on the phone, former federal prosecutor. laura, your reaction to this? i'm no lawyer but it seems rather unusual for an attorney's office to be raided by the fbi. >> it is normally very unusual for that to happen. ands you have the attorney-clients privilege and you have to circumvent to get any information worthwhile. but you understand this is yet again another instance of the special counsel who by surprise attack likely and in an effort to ensure nothing that may be fleet la guardia be disposed of, any hard evidence or anything that would not fall under attorney-client privilege would be preserved in an effort to get
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it. we saw the same thing happen almost a year ago when you had the no knock and announce warrant ex -- executed on paul manafort and as a way to try to get information. normally we have these protocols and etiquette that suggest we can kind of negotiate the terms of having some information handed over to discovery but if the special counsel office or another prosecutor division understands or believes the information they are seeking is going to be destroyed or not going to be given up voluntarily, they have every right to do so in this fashion. >> i want to read from the new york times story. "the new york times" reporting that michael cohen, president trump's attorney, his offices have been raided, documents have been taken, including documents that michael cohen's attorney said are privileged communication. obviously the fbi and the special counsel robert mueller will dispute that.
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mr. ryan said mr. cohen -- this is from the new york times story, has cooperated with authorities and turned over thousands of documents to congressional investigators looking into russian election meddling. the paxts to miss clifford, that is stormy daniels, are only one of many topics being investigated according to a person briefed on the search. the fbi seized e-mails and tax documents and business recorded, the person said. laura coates, that seems anything that tax documents are being seized. >> extremely significant. because remember, we all had questions about what the president of the united states tax documents would reveal or allude to and now you have somebody who -- just a few days after the president of the united states has confirmed in that off-the-cuff interview in the back of air force one that he was unaware of the nature of or the origin of a payment made by his attorney. you now see special counsel office going back to try to confirm or find out information about perhaps other payments,
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not related to stormy daniels, or unrelated to things we may know about. but what you see here a pattern by the special counsel of asking and then failing to trust. which is what every prosecutor would do who has discovery in front of them or behind them, would say i would like you to give me everything you have and then if they didn't get everything -- in the trump organization, they had the same thing happen a few weeks ago when they said i would like everything and they had been cooperating over time and then it turned out they had a subpoena and wanted more information. so the skepticism is there but it is very significant to think that somebody who would have the protections of the attorney-client privilege a few days after confirming he has gone rogue in other respects would have the special counsel knocking at their door to make sure they have full compliance. we're in the game of not cooperation, but a court has said there is reason to believe this person has not cooperated
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in all respects. >> laura coates. stay with us. i want to go to gloria borger and gloria, seizing information about stormy daniels, seizing tax documents, robert mueller signing a warrant for the fbi to raid the president's lawyer's offices. this is fairly stunning. >> well, it is stunning. look, he's been his personal attorney since 2006. and the money paid to stormy daniels was through an llc and i have to believe that what they are looking at is the way that mr. cohen has done other real estate deals potentially for donald trump over the years. and let's not forget that during the campaign, when the president was saying i have no business dealings with russia, it was michael cohen who was trying to set up a trump tower moscow with a letter of intent which we all
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know went nowhere. but he was very involved in this. and you also have to think that in terms of perhaps helping shield mr. trump from taxes, et cetera, et cetera, that this was -- this was something that michael cohen did routinely. and in speaking to people who worked in the trump organization, they always said to me, we never quite knew what michael cohen did. but we knew that he did whatever donald trump needed him to do. and i think that is the nature of the relationship and what struck me recently, jake, was that when the president spoke for the first time about stormy daniels, he said, michael cohen is my lawyer, period. and so that made me think, okay, attorney-client privilege applies here and they wanted that known. but this raid, as laura coates was saying, is kind of stunning. >> it is stunning.
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stormy daniels otherwise known as stephanie clifford and her attorney michael avenatti just treated an enormous amount of misplaced faith has been on cohen. and this could end very badly for donald trump trump and others. i want to bring in evan perez. the u.s. attorney's office for the southern district of new york, they execute this -- this series of warrants, this search of michael cohen's office but this action is in part a referral by the office of special counsel. so is this part of the mueller probe or is it separate from the mueller probe? or both. >> all indications is this is not part of the mueller investigation. >> then why does it say it is a referral -- in part a referral by the office of special counsel. >> i think that is the way it works, jake. so the -- there was information or at least according to stephen ryan, michael cohen's attorney, he is describing that robert mueller's investigators came across information they thought
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constituted reason for perhaps a possible crime. that constituted reasons for the southern district of new york to actually investigate this. so what mueller is doing is saying, look, this is not my our, this is outside of what i'm supposed to be doing, but you guys should take a look at this because we think there is something here. and so this is what has happened now. the southern district of new york, the district attorney office there in manhattan has eck -- has executed this warrant and conducting an investigation into something that doesn't fall squarely in the four corners of what robert mueller is doing. i should say we've heard from people who have gone in to see mueller that he was asked -- the mueller team asked the witnesses whether they knew something about the payments to women, including stormy daniels. >> hush payments? is. >> hush payments, correct. so the fact that those questions were coming from the mueller team really aggravated people inside of the white house. people in the white house wanted
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to know why is mueller even getting to this question -- >> this has nothing to do with election interference. >> this is nothing to do with election interference. and i think mueller has arrived at same conclusion. even if there is something here to be investigated, it is not for him to do and it is the jurisdiction of the manhattan u.s. attorney. so that appears -- again, according to what stephen ryan has told "the new york times," and the southern district of new york, the u.s. attorney in manhattan is the one doing whatever investigation is into perhaps the hush payments, whether there is other violations. beyond the push payments, there could be some violation of election laws, if, for example, you did not declare these payments as a gift to the then candidate donald trump. again these payments were made just before the election and there is a way for you to reg gifts and if you don't do -- to register gifts and if you don't do it properly, it is a violation of federal election
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law. we don't know what the attorney's office in manhattan is doing, but based on what stephen ryan the attorney for michael cohen is describing, that appears to be what happened. mueller has kicked this over to -- to the u.s. attorney's office. >> thanks for that clearing that up. evan -- bill. >> i would say based on -- a little bit of knowledge of how these things work, if robert mueller asked the southern district not to do this now, they would have held off. he has sort of precedence here. so i'm a little doubtful this is not part of the investigation or in accord with his wishes. this is a huge escalation. they can't use privileged documents and they are set aside and viewed by a third party and what is not -- and this is war. we're close to the end game. you did not go bust in with a -- to get a judge to give you a warrant to search the president's personal lawyer's office until you think you are close to the end of this and getting important information. the president is now -- the
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president will go to war against him. and if the president thought about firing mueller, this is the moment where it goes to front of his mind. i worry we might be underinterpreting this and -- the idea that he signs off and goes to a judge to get a judge to sign off on a warrant to do this, i think that is a big deal. >> and i think, look, again, part of what happens in these cases your concern is that there is destruction of evidence and documents -- >> that is why they did the no-knock warrant search. >> exactly. so it is an extreme step to go raid the house of the former chairman of the trump campaign, i think you do it because you are in fear that there will be evidence destroyed. >> gloria borger? >> the relationship between the president and michael cohen has not gone away. if you recall, he invited michael cohen just i guess a week ago when he was in ma
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mar-a-largo to visit him and have dinner to show support for him and shortly there ever he came out and said he is my lawyer. and we know from the reporting that witnesses have been asked about michael cohen, vis-a-vis trump tower moscow and the whole question of his involvement in trying to get -- to get that branding for the president during the campaign. and so the relationship between michael cohen and this president is like he's -- as he proudly calls himself, his ray donovan. so it does not surprise me that either mueller found something in his interviews that he thought should be investigated by new york, or that he is also continuing to do so on his own. but there is some, as evan rightly points out, that is completely outside his purview
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and he thinks that however it should not be left untouched or uninvestigated. >> that is interesting. david urban, you want to -- >> let's dial back and we do live in the united states of america where everybody starts out as a presumption of innocence and as i sat in the studio when senator mend end he is was facing trial and the panel was saying, he's done and gone and baked and there is a jury to conclusion and not make the decision. we're not even close to that here. the fbi and some folks have taken some documents, presumption of innocence. we're way far, far away from anything here yet. >> absolutely. and let's go now to cnn legal analyst michael zeldin on the phone. he is the former special assistant at the department of justice to robert mueller. mr. zeldin, your interpretation of what just happened, this fbi raid, southern district of new york, u.s. attorney's office
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raiding the personal attorney, michael cohen and his offices. he's the attorney for president trump. >> so it seems what you're seeing, jake, is mueller coming across in the course of his investigation evidence of criminal wrongdoing which is beyond the scope of his mandate so most likely he went to rod rosenstein pursuant to the regulations that governor mueller's conduct and said, what would you like me to do with this and rosenstein said or they both agreed this is best handled by the southern district of new york, u.s. attorney's office and probably a manhattan financial crime or perhaps real estate related inquiry. they obtained a warrant to search which means they presented to a court evidence of probable cause to believe there was relevant evidence to a criminal investigation and the warrant was signed and off they went and seized the documents that they needed to seize. we just can't tell, yet, what the scope of it is and why it
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is -- why mueller and rosenstein feel it is outside of his mandate when you look at paul manafort and gates' indictments which seem untethered to the primary mandate of coordination and yet he pursued that. so this must be something that is -- sort of ring fenced within manhattan and relevant to financial dealings of cohen, either as his -- as a lawyer in and of himself or as a lawyer for the trump organization. we just don't know because cohen claims to make representations with respect to stormy daniels, said he is acting on his own and then makes representations with respect to donald trump that he's helping build the trump tower in moscow and other international properties. so we just don't know yet where it falls. but it is clear that mueller found something that he thinks the u.s. attorney should investigate and the judge
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agreed. >> michael zeld -- zeldin, let me ask you, bill crystal has a theory even though it was a referral from the special counsel office to the southern district of new york, u.s. attorney, meaning the southern district of new york was told about something that they should look into, that robert mueller and his team had found, but they are actually not been not mueller but the southern district of new york, they are investigating this and they are raiding the office. and bill crystal interprets it is possible that robert mueller had to sign off on the search warrant since the information started with him and that whether or not this is related to the election interference investigation, this is part of mustling and showing people like michael cohen and maybe even president trump that they are going to be investigated, whether they like it or not and they need to be honest, whether they like it or not. as somebody who worked with
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robert mueller, what do you think of that theory? >> well i'm not sure why he would need the southern district to do that. he could have done that on his own as he did in gates where they investigated what was originally a eastern district of virginia tax case that the u.s. attorney there was looking at and mueller took it over. so i'm not sure he would need the southern district to do his work in manhattan. i think he has authority to do that under his current mandate. which is why i think that perhaps it is not directly connected to his mandate and he's trying to be true to the mandate which is to investigate and coordination of matters related to russia and the 2016 presidential election. but mueller works in mysterious ways as we've learned and he doesn't leak to we're all speculating. but my speculation is that this is something i call it a ring fence, meaning it is unique to new york and not connected to
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bob's investigation directly. >> let's bring in cnn josh campbell, a former fbi supervisor special agent and assistant to james comey and now a legal analyst for cnn. josh, how do you interpret what happened just now? >> i think we've heard some of the political commentators say we need to dial this down. i think the opposite. the department of justice has showed they are ready to dial this up and we don't know about the specifics or the underlying potential crime but any time you are dealing with an eelected official it falls under the category what the department of justice call a sensitive investigative matter and if you have a politician or a member of the media or clergy, those type of legal action or enforcement is going to be signed off on at the highest level of the department of justice. that is number one. and the second part with robert mueller, he won't task out to the southern district some work or some allegation for them to do with on their own. that is going to be feud at main justice and signed off on the
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highest level before it goes to another district to start an investigation. i think that this shows that -- and folks can be warned that if during the course of investigating a crime, if investigators unearth some other type of crime, they don't simply turn a blind eye. >> david urban, i'll give you a chance to weigh in. >> so as we've heard and in the gates and manafort case, no knock and guns pulled raid and i'm talked to folks in law enforcement, they make those for bad guys with guns and it is very rare for folks to do no knock raids on that case. and in that case -- >> josh, we'll come back in a second. >> you had your chance. and in this case as well, you had -- you had gates and manafort on things happening in 2013, completely unrelated to this election. if this were the case?
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it would be tied to the president. mueller could have done it. >> the president of the united states had dinner with michael cohen weeks ago and said michael cohen is my lawyer. the highest level of justice has just signed off on an fbi announced raid on the president's personal lawyer -- >> why was it -- we don't know everything. >> we don't know. >> but it doesn't stop from opining in the thousands -- >> i'm saying that i suspect -- to say this is not a big deal strikes me -- >> i do want josh as a former special agent, you are saying it is not true that the no-knock midnight raids are only done on bad guy drug dealers with guns. go ahead. >> that is right. and this isn't any disrespect for mr. urban, points for creativity. i understand the position he's in. but fur a law enforcement officer and focusing on a crime it doesn't involve those that are dangerous but those destroying evidence but the fact is the point that was made has
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nothing to do with what i just said a moment ago. >> josh -- normal for the fbi -- >> -- and the department of just. >> it is normal for the fbi to no knock and guns drawn on a matter like mr. manafort? that is a normal procedure. >> i didn't say normal, you said it is not case. >> but is that normal. >> the fbi will approach the situation in that way. >> is it normal or not normal for the fbi to no knock and guns drawn in a manafort type of raid? yes or no. >> i'm saying it requires a judge to sign off on it. >> just asking -- >> and the fbi agents convinced the judge it was warranted in this case so the argument is superfluous and i guess -- >> i guess that is no. >> this is separate than what mueller is doing. >> we could all agree that mueller and now the southern district of new york are using rather aggressive tactics. >> yes. >> and the judge signed off on it. >> and the reason -- it is not whether the guns are drawn. the fak is there was reasonable suspicion if they didn't go in in this unannounced ways, documents would be destroyed an a judge, not mueller, a judge
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convinced that was something to to worry about and that is -- >> and it is not is this normal. there is nothing normal about this administration, about anything that is np outgrowth of said administration or any investigation whether we're talking about the senate house or the special counsel -- there is nothing normal about this. so let's not normalize any of this. it is crazy. we were just -- bill, i hate to say you out, opd commercial break we're talking about how this is like -- something out of a thriller movie. this is insane. i feel bad for y'all because you do to his points, creative points to you, but you have to con tort yourselves into unbelievable ways just to even make any of this make sense. and it doesn't. let's get worse. >> let's get to the point -- it is great. i love it. and to the point that josh was making and you would agreed with david urban, this being a -- the term you used -- a sim. >> a sensitive investigative matter.
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>> that you want to cross your t's and dot your i's before you raid the office of the president's attorney let alone as gloria borger reminded us and bill cristal just underlined, president trump had a dinner with him and made a show of his loyalty and support for him. that is aggressive. >> i don't disagree. but why did mueller feel like he had to punt it down to the southesh district. >> because it is outside of his investigation. >> his investigation is obtuse. >> and let me point out, one thing we're missing here is the department of justice will referee investigations all of the time. when you look at various districts it is not unusual for one investigation to impact another. and so this isn't something that the doij is not used to doing, but like bill said, this is a bigger deal than we're thinking because if the doj looked at this and said this is not going to impact robert mueller's investigation, go forth and prosper, then that should show
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us we're off to the races -- >> or maybe less important. >> we should not loose sight of a couple of things. in this case there are unanswered questions, where did the money come from, mr. cohen -- >> this is for the stormy daniels payment. >> and we don't know about other things that they may have uncovered and we know the payment itself in the stormy daniels matter generated a suspicious activity report. basically that the -- by the bank. the bank kicked it over to law enforcement and said, there is something strange here that merits looking at. so there is plenty of there-there to -- >> let's put a fine point on this. the f.e.c. violation is a far, far cry from a criminal investigation. >> go ahead. >> but it is also important to know -- evan, you brought up the payment, the bank sent an e-mail to the michael cohen organization e-mail which was a different trigger and probably the reason why all of this is
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happeningp and the last point, the tax as pecks, maybe he won't have to release his returns but there will be something we finally learn about donald trump -- >> and i want to bring in gloria borger and then dana bash. you have new information. >> i was just communicating to somebody who suggested to me who is knowledgeable about this, that reminded me that michael cohen was never part of the campaign and made a point always of saying, i'm not part of the campaign and i didn't join the campaign and so mueller's investigation in terms of so-called collusion with the russians and et cetera is really about people who worked for that campaign. michael, not for the campaign. so perhaps this is a second investigation. we don't know. >> we don't know. about gloria, the person you spoke with, one of the big questions about president trump, you know this better than anyone, is why -- until recently has he been reluctant to criticize russia and point out
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that has changed in the last day or two because of the chemical weapons attack and but why and wenty won't he release his tax returns with speculation of business ties that michael cohen might know about. >> and michael cohen might have his tax returns, by the way. he is his personal attorney. and i believe that is probably -- and again, i'm speculating here, but one of the reasons he never officially joined the campaign. he's a political guy. i think he wanted to go into the white house. that did not happen. and he remains donald trump's personal guy. so i think when you look at this stormy daniels payment an llc, you would likely look at other real estate deals over the year michael cohen has done for donald trump, branding deals or real estate or whatever it is and look at how those deals were financed and again, since the special counsel is looking at
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the campaign, michael cohen is not a part of that. he did testify before congress. i -- as of last week i was told that he had nottie yet appeared before the special counsel. i don't fknow if that changed bt that is in the five -- as of five or six days ago. but again, it is -- it could be separate. it could be a new thing. >> i want to bring in dana bash and then david your reaction. dana bash, you know michael cohen an been reporting on this. what is your take? >> well first and foremost, the fact that michael cohen's lawyer in this the statement that they just released said explicitly that the fbi seized the privileged communications between my client, michael cohen, and his clients, is going to send his most important client, his most famous client, the president of the united states, probably going bonkers. and that is something that -- that not only am i saying from
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watching the president and how he reacts when the feds, mueller or anyone else, get close to him. but i'm just communicating with some people who are close to the president, who know the way he reacts, who are bracing for that. so we don't know exactly what the fbi got, but what we do know is that the president of the united states is -- it is kind of on a tinder box when it comes to being investigated, by mueller or anybody else in the justice department. and the fact that his personal attorney, who gloria reminded us, the president referred to as his personal attorney just last week had his office -- offices raided and documents seized with his clients are looking at twitter and certainly -- and certainly the president's allies are looking at twitter, wondering -- and probably talking to him behind closed doors right now. wondering what he is going to
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do. because you never know where this president. >> and let me say, i heard from another source who has more knowledge does not believe this is about other real estate deals. so i asked what it was about and i haven't heard back yet. but he believes that it is more -- it is more limited than that. which leads me to question is this about stormy daniels and the way that money was paid? >> i want to bring in -- we could talk on the phone with a source close to trump that knows president trump. we have one here on set. how might -- would you think that his attorney, michael cohen's attorney putting in that statement about the president's -- that michael cohen's privileged communications being seized and you think that is -- that was designed to wake president trump up and maybe say something about this. >> i think this is a game of three dimensional chess. let's think about what is moving forward in the next few weeks. next week jim comey will have
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the kickoff of the book and he'll tell his side of the story. a decision has to be made whether the president will sit down with the special counsel. this makes me think, if i was the president, why sit down. what is the upside of sitting down with the special counsel at this point. the kind of tactics undertaken, if i was the president, i would look at and say what the up-side. it will only get me in trouble and talking to them so why bother. send me some written interrogatories and i'll respond but i'm not sitting down with you and you see mueller pulling that threat -- and i agree with dana, they've got him in the white house and they are talking about it. and when we come back, we'll talk to a new yorker and a attorney and trump supporter and get his take. we're going to squeeze in a very, very quick break. stay with us. we'll be right back.
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we're back with breaking news. cnn has confirmed the u.s. attorneys employees have raided the offices of president trump's long-time lawyer michael cohen. stephen ryan, his lawyer released this statement to cnn, quote, today the u.s. attorney's office for the southern district of new york executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client michael cohen and his clients. one of his clients is the president of the united states. i've been advised by federal prosecutors at the new york action is in part a referral by the office of special counsel robert mueller. jeff zellin joins me and president trump is watching right now? >> indeed, jake. i'm told the president has been watching news coverage of this development this afternoon from the white house. i'm told by a white house official this was not coming as a surprise to the president.
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he had a head's up this had happened. of course he's dealing with a lot on his plate and potential strikes on syria and other matters, but the president is watching news coverage this afternoon on this. has been being briefed on this, jake. what we do not know is if the president has spoken directly to michael cohen. but you would certainly believe they probably have or will. it is important to point out, as you have been mentioning, the president has been a long-term client michael cohen is an adviser. last week on air force one the president was asked for the first time about stormy daniels and he referred reporters to michael cohen. he said you'll have to ask michael cohen about this. you'll have to ask him about this payment of the $130,000, so the president as we know is in a routine of communication with michael cohen and he's at mar-a-largo and at white house and talks to him frequently but the president has been watching news coverage of this.
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certainly is paying very careful attention to all of this here. that's all we know at this point, the president indeed watching, unclear if he's spoken to michael cohen. jake. >> jeff, thank you so much. i want to bring in congressman lee zeldin, republican from new york and a supporter of president trump. your reaction, sir, to the u.s. attorney's office for the southern district of new york raiding the offices of the president's attorney michael cohen. >> well there is so much information that we just don't have yet. i've been sitting here listening over the course of the show and following some of the news here coming in on twitter and what not while listening to your coverage. so there is a lot of unanswered questions. and i will say, taking off my congress hat and putting on my attorney hat for a second, it's really hard to go after an attorney when you have a lot of attorney-client privilege, not just related to obviously mr. cohen's highest profile client,
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but really all of his clients. >> i can -- >> there is a lot to learn -- that we don't have the answered to. but it is a little concerning to be hearing news of going after the attorney and acquiring raiding so much of the attorney-client privilege. >> and that is what is so stunning about it. if it were a business partner of president trump, would t would be shocking and a big news story but the idea that there would be i -- a sign off from the justice department for the raid of the offices of the president's attorney, either this an egregious violation of attorney-client privilege and civil rights, or there is a mountain of evidence suggesting that the fbi and the u.s. attorney's office have to do this right now. >> right. and that is a big question that i don't have the answer to, either. and i'm sure we'll learn more
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without too much delay. but there is a debate in this country with regards to the scope of director mueller's probe and some of the reporting that is coming out i hear is that robert mueller is choosing to make a referral to the southern district. we're starting to see -- and i was at -- at the beginning of the process when director mueller was first appointed as the special counsel, there was a very narrow focus related to the 2016 election and collusion, the russian and cybersecurity with the hacks of the dnc and dccc and john podesta looking at election day itself and what kind of cyber effort by the russians to test the election system and so that was a different type of an investigation than what we're seeing with the indictments that have been coming out. and then today's raid -- a lot of this stuff is way beyond the mandate of why the special counsel is created in the first place. so i think that while we are
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awaiting to learn additional information about what happened today, this is only going to fuel more energy to that debate of exactly what is director mueller's end game here, what exactly is the limit to the scope and what is the chain of command and where are we going and i don't want a president -- when you get elected to face this, with political opposition or just -- the way the system is set up that they operate their entire presidency under a cloud where anyone connected to the president for the term of this presidency -- and anyone -- anyone and everyone faces the possibility of an investigation or indictment for anything going back no matter how far in the past as well. i think that is the next level of the conversation. way beyond just guestietting to bottom of what happened today. >> thank you very much. and gloria borger has more news.
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what are you learning? >> from a source familiar, it seems like that this was -- i'm told -- about stormy daniels and that the documents they were looking for were apparently about stormy daniels. i asked the question whether that also might include other payments to other women, and my source would not say -- would not say anything else. but the source wanted to wade me off the notion that we -- that i had been talk about previously which is the sort of trump tower aspect of any of this. real estate aspect of any of this. and that may answer the question about why mueller thought this was completely out -- out of his purview because his purview is not stormy daniels in any way, shape or form. and that is maybe a reason he referred it. but my source said narrowing in scope and that is what it was about. and the payments -- then would this be over an fcc violation.
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it seems like an awful lot to go over a violation. so we'll let this unravel a little bit. >> gloria borger, thank you. and adam perez is back with me. this is a referral by mueller's office and not part of the special counsel investigation. apparently robert mueller and his team found out some information that was not related to their purview, tell us about the regulation that dictates to mueller and his team what they should do next. >> right. the regulations that governor special counsel says you have to go and get permission from the attorney general and in this case rod rosenstein who is the acting attorney general for the purpose of this investigation. and i'll read a part of what the regulations say. it says that if the special counsel comes across information that suggests -- that require additional investigation, that is outside of the purview, it says here he or she shall consult with the attorney general who will determine whether to include additional matters within the jurisdiction or assign them elsewhere.
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rod rosenstein would have the -- the power to say, mueller, you continue to do this and you investigate this, again if it has to do with stormy daniels, this is now part of your jurisdiction, or he could say, we're going to kick it over to manhattan and the u.s. attorney with a large and robust and criminal white-collar -- and they could do this investigation and this is what they do day in and day out and it looks like that is what happened here. rod rosenstein has determined we're not going to have a repeat of ken star where you begin with a real estate deal in arkansas and end up at a blue dress. we'll keep mueller on the straight and narrow, because that is frankly a criticism from the people close to the president -- >> and you just heard congress lee zeldin raising the issue. >> right and they are harping on the idea that mueller is going far afield but it seems mueller decided we're going to stay on the straight and narrow and rod rosenstein signed off on that.
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>> or maybe rod rosenstein restrained him and as part of the statute, and i could be mistaken, it said the special counsel has to conclude the prosecution before issuing his report. he put this outside of the scope of that. this could continue down its own path. if you noticed, the prosecution of manafort and gates took place this summer pretty quickly on an expedited for a fall referral of the rest of the matters. >> hold that -- we'll talk to our panel and we're going to squeeze in a quick break. stay with us. you wouldn't accept an incomplete job from any one else. why accept it from your allergy pills? flonase relieves your worst symptoms including nasal congestion, which most pills don't. flonase helps block 6 key inflammatory substances.
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warrants as part of a referral from special counsel robert mueller. that does not mean it is part of the mueller investigation. it means that mueller's team found something and decided it was not in the scope of the investigation. they told the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein about it and he recommended that they refer it to the southern district of new york for further investigation. my poonl is ba-- my panel is ba. and the series of search warrants suggest it might not just be stormy daniels but other things they are looking into. >> i would be interested to know about the tax documents they seized have to do with the stormy daniels payment. i'm interested to know again the trump organization e-mail was used to confirm the payment was received by the bank, the e-mails make sense. that sounds like it is in the scope of the stormy daniels' piece but i feel like there has to be smog else. i just have a suspicion and we only have breaking news and the facts are sparce. >> they are. but david urban, your an
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attorney, and you went to the great temple university -- i was trying to get in a philadelphia plug. >> there you go. >> this seems really big for a federal election commission crime or election law crime. >> -- again, director mueller is -- they come in guns drawn and kicking the door down and no knock raid of paul manafort's house and pretty heavy handed. everybody who looked at that from the new york times andern person who i had seen wrote about that, he's sending a message he's not messing around and maybe it is another message that we're going to wrap this up and again, we're not messing around. chg attorney-client privilege is substantive and we'll see what
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they could use going forward. >> they have to have a special team to go through documents -- >> and decide which is privileged. >> in camera. >> this is huge. >> my instinct -- it is it is big. for this reason. a judge had to conclude it was reasonable to believe unless they went in this way, documents would be destroyed. there is -- otherwise, this is a strong presumption against busting into lawyer's offices and seizing all of the documents and they have to be gone -- >> they did in the manafort case as well. convinced the judge the same thing. >> and he was right. and you know why the convinced the judge -- because there was good reason -- >> he might not have preserved documents. >> the judge believes the president a's personal lawyer may have believed he destroyed documents on a week that he had dinner -- >> and you keep bringing up paul manafort as an example and that is not a good example. >> i'm saying i don't know what proof is there that he was would destroy records. >> but there is a fear.
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>> all i say is when the fbi comes to you, to your house, i hope that you don't push back against them -- >> they're not coming to my house. >> the fbi is not coming to our houses. >> everybody is innocent physical proven guilty. >> the presumption of innocence. >> something we can agree on. that is it for t "the lead" and we'll turn it over to wolf blitzer. happening now, breaking news, fbi raises cohen. federal agents raid the office of president trump's potential lawyer michael cohen saying it follows an action referral by robert mueller and the records seized include documents related to porn star stormy daniels. cnn learned the president was aware of the raid before the news broke tonight. a source tells cnn the president is watching developments play out on television. atrocious