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occasion at a satellite office in bladen county. jeffrey smith also says that he said that dowless and harris met on multiple occasions. jake? >> ryan nobles in north carolina, thank you. our coverage on cnn continues right now. happening now, breaking news. not the villain. former trump personal attorney, michael cohen, is sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay almost $2 million. he admits to carrying out what he calls mr. trump's dirty deeds, but says he wants to make sure history won't record him as the villain of trump's stories. tabloid involvement. the publisher of the national inquirer admits it worked with cohen and members of the trump campaign on a hush money payment to a former playboy model to help donald trump win the white house. going nuts. president trump silent so far in michael cohen's sentence, but said to be privately seething.
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and he's brushing off questions about his associate's contacts with russians during the campaign as, quote, peanuts stuff. and tortured spy. the russian government calls accused russian agent maria butina a political prisoner and accuses the u.s. of torturing her in what it says was a, quote, medieval inquisition. i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news this hour. a three-year sentence for president trump's former fixer and personal attorney, michael cohen. he now says he covered up his boss's, quote, dirty deeds, including hush money payments to illegally help the trump campaign by silencing women who say they had affairs with mr. trump. moments after cohen's sentencing, prosecutors revealed an agreement with the parent company of the national enquirer, which admits it took
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part in one payment with cohen and in concert with, quote, a presidential campaign. i'll talk about the breaking news with congressman adam schiff. he's the top democrat on the intelligence committee. and our correspondents, analysts and specialists are also standing by. first, let's get right to the breaking news. our national correspondent, athena jones. michael cohen is the fourth person sentenced and his by far the longest. >> hi, wolf. that's right. that sentence is the longest. michael cohen said today, i take full responsibility for each act that i pled guilty to. the personal ones to me and those involving the president of the united states of america. so once again, he implicated president trump in two felonies. but when it comes to taking full responsibility, cohen tried to have it both ways, painting himself as a victim of trump, while also trying to play the hero for cooperating with investigators. three years. that's how long president trump's former personal attorney
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and long-time fixer, michael cohen, will have to spend in prison after pleading guilty in august to tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations. and just last month, to lying to congress. it's the first time a member of trump's inner circle has received significant prison time in connection with special counsel robert mueller's russia probe. it was a day of reckoning for cohen, joined at the federal courthouse by his family. and it brought more bad headlines for trump. after detailing a pattern of deception by cohen, federal prosecutors asked for a substantial prison sentence. u.s. district judge william pauly agreed, saying he thrived on his access to wealthy and powerful people and he became one himself. in brief remarks in court, cohen, who once prided himself on being trump's lawyer and even said he would take a bullet for the president, painted himself as a victim, saying about trump, time and time again, i felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds. cohen adding, i have been living
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in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that i accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that i deeply admired. cohen has pledged to continue to cooperate with mueller's investigation into possible collusion with russia and obstruction of justice. speaking of the president, he said he is committed to ensuring that history will not remember me as the villain of his story. in admitting to illegally orchestrati orchestrating hush payments to karen mcdougal and stormy daniels to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with trump before the 2016 election, cohen implicated the president, saying trump directed him to make the payments, something federal prosecutors noted in court papers. trump has denied the affairs and any knowledge of the payments, despite being recorded discussing the mcdougle payment with cohen. >> when it comes time for the financing, which will be -- >> what financing? >> well, i have to pay -- >> pay in cash. >> no, no, no. >> reporter: cohen also admitted
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to lying to congress and to special counsel investigators about talks to build a trump tower in moscow. negotiations with russians lasted until june 2016. even after trump had become the presumptive republican nominee, despite cohen originally telling investigators, talks ended in january. and cohen admitted he discussed the project with then candidate trump. throughout the campaign, trump frequently proclaimed he had no ties and no business in russia. >> i have nothing to do with russia, folks. okay? i'll give you a written statement. nothing to do -- >> reporter: prosecutors view cohen's lies about russia contacts as part of an effort to alter the investigation under russian election meddling, an ongoing probe that offers more political legal peril for the president. cohen must pay a $50,000 fine. cohen was ordered to report to prison in march. wolf? >> you know, athena, at the same time cohen was sentenced, prosecutors made public for the
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first time that the owner of the national enquirer admitted its role in the payoffs to the two women that donald trump allegedly had affairs with. what does the company say about the campaign that they knew about the hush money? >> this is important and interesting. as part of this nonprosecution agreement, ami admitted to making the hush payment to karen mcdougal for political reasons. we also know that ami met with at least one other person on the trump campaign, meaning that cohen didn't act alone here. here is a key quote from the agreement. ami made a payment in the amount of $150,000 in cooperation, consultation and concert with, and at the request and suggestion of one or more members or agents of a candidate's 2016 presidential campaign to ensure that a woman did not publicize damaging allegations about that candidate before the 2016 presidential election, and thereby influence that election. wolf? >> those allegations had come out by those two women in the days immediately before the election, could have had an
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impact on the election as we all know. athena, thank you very much. athena jones reporting. let's get more on the breaking news. cnn's jim sciutto. and cara, you were in the federal court today, the special counsel's lawyers said that cohen will continue to cooperate on the russia probe. what more does cohen know about what he called the president's dirty deeds, and how damaging could his continued testimony be to the president? >> well, wolf, michael cohen was donald trump's personal attorney for at least ten years, going back to 2007. so he knows trump and he knows the trump organization very well. and, in fact, that's why he fashioned himself his fixer. he said he would go in and try to fix some of these issues. now, the special counsel's office has said today, in court, that he's continuing to cooperate up until this day. so they still find his cooperation of value. he's been in seven times to meet with the special counsel's office. they said they're continuing to
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talk to him, what they found him to be credible, reliable and useful testimony in cooperation from him. now, it remains to be seen exactly what michael cohen has on donald trump. and the special counsel's office isn't showing their hand just yet, wolf. >> interesting. jim, cohen is going to prison in part for a crime that prosecutors implicated the president in these hush money payments to two women that trump allegedly had affairs with. should the president be worried about the legal trouble he potentially could face? >> absolutely. michael cohen is going to prison for a crime in which he implicates the president. he said he did this at the direction of then candidate trump, and ami, parent company to the national enquirer, it as part of its cooperation agreement, says that it helped make -- facilitate this payment to karen mcdougal in concert with the trump campaign. and with the intention of influencing the election. that's one of the standards for breaking these campaign finance
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laws. so that organization and the president's long-time lawyer and fixer both implicate the president in a crime that he is now going to go to jail for. and when the president leaves office, it's justice department policy now, you cannot indict a sitting president. but when he does leave office, the full possibility that the president could be indicted for the same crime that his long-time lawyer and fixer is going to serve hard jail time for. >> that could be a nightmare for the president. cara, the president has denied knowing about the payments, but now the national enquirer is admitting that it did work with at least one other member of the trump campaign. how does that revelation hurt the president's defense? >> well, wolf, it's another witness to the -- you know, to this campaign finance violation, and the intent behind making these payments to karen mcdougal and later the separate payment to stormy daniels. so another potential witness that the u.s. attorney's office has spoken to. and as jim was just saying, while the president is in
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office, doj policy is that they wouldn't indict him. but these payments came in october 2016. so, you know, if trump does not win re-election, the statute of limitations will be open until at least october 2016. so there is certainly still a lot of legal jeopardy on the table for the president and also as part of that nonprosecution agreement, it also in that statement of offense noted that ami has made multiple employees available. we know that david pecker, chairman, had received immunity for his cooperation. and so ami has cooperated completely and fully. so whatever other information, documents, e-mails, notes they have, you know, could be used as the u.s. attorney's office continues going down the road on this case, wolf. >> david pecker, publisher, owner of the national enquirer, used to be good friend of the president's. jim, today's sentencing comes a day after president trump's fired national security adviser, michael flynn revealed he had been cooperating with mueller for the much longer than
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previously known. what does that tell you about mueller's view into the trump campaign and very early days of the administration? >> it tells you that the mueller investigation into trump campaign and administration ties and communications with russia, core to this investigation, not side issues, not campaign payments to women, et cetera, not just that, but that its investigation into russia, what started all of this, continues. and crucially now, the president's former national security adviser, michael flynn, is cooperating on that issue of the investigation. spoke to the special counsel, we learned for 62 hours, provided thousands of documents, including on to communications with russia during the transition. not just during the campaign. because remember, michael flynn's conversations that he lied about with the russian ambassador, that took place in december 2016, after the election, talking about sanctions on russia. so that part of the investigation is open. keep in mind, michael cohen
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cooperating on that part of the investigation, as well. i'm quoting here from what the special counsel's office said in that courtroom today about michael cohen's cooperation. said that it is on core russia-related issues within the purview of the special counsel's offices. so you will hear from the president, you will hear from his lawyer, you will hear from his advisers. this has nothing to do with him, nothing to do with russia, nothing to do with collusion. that is not what you're hearing stated in those courtrooms today about both flynn's and cohen's cooperation. >> yep. very, very significant material. all right, jim sciutto, cara scanel, thank you very much. democratic congressman adam schiff, thank you so much for joining us. you reacted to all of this news today by tweeting this. and let me read from your tweet. michael cohen made the right decision to cooperate with the special counsel's office. his sentencing today demonstrates that nobody is above the law, not the personal lawyer to the president of the united states or the president
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himself. as you know, the president has been implicated in the crimes for which michael cohen is now going to prison. so how do you think the president will be held accountable? >> well, i think the more significant development in the case today than the sentence that michael cohen received was the fact that there is this nonprosecution agreement with ami, that parent of the national enquirer. because what that means is, this is not simply michael cohen's word against donald trump's. it is now donald trump's word against everyone else. that there are witnesses at ami who will testify these payments were made for the express purpose of influencing the election, by depriving voters of knowledge of these stories of women coming forward to say they had affairs with the candidate for the president. that is powerful corroboration. there is apparently another witness within the trump organization that also corroborates what michael cohen
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has to say. so that to me is the most significant development. you know, and i would say this on that statute of limitations question you mentioned, wolf. and that is, i think the justice department needs to reexamine that olc opinion, that you cannot indict a sitting president. under circumstances in which the failure to do so may mean that person escapes justice. because if it were the case that it was now or never that if you wait until after the president leaves office they can no longer be brought to justice, that ought to create certainly an exception to that olc rule, if not mean revisiting and revising the rule all together. >> so am i hearing you correctly? you say indict him now, and maybe try him after he leaves office? is that what i'm hearing? >> well, what i'm saying, wolf, is i don't think that the justice department ought to take the position -- and it's certainly not one that would be required in any way by the constitution -- that a president merely by being in office can be
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above the law, can escape the enforcement of the law, by essentially waiting out the law. by waiting out the statute of limitations. so there ought to be a mechanism to make sure that that is not the case, whether that means revisiting the olc opinion that -- and allowing the indictment of a sitting president and staying the prosecution, or allowing both the indictment and prosecution. but i think those issues may be four square before the justice department. now, the department may wish to wait to resolve those issues to determine whether they're ripe in the sense of that may not be an issue if the president is not re-elected. but i think that now is something that the justice department needs to consider. >> because i remember on sunday, you suggested that he should be indicted potentially after he leaves office. and not necessarily while he's still in office. what changed between sunday and now? >> you know, i wasn't saying the president should be indicted when he leaves office. but it seems to me that it is very likely that bob mueller will adhere to this olc opinion.
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that he will make the judgment that while the constitution doesn't prohibit him from seeking an indictment, that there are potential reasons why he might not do that. that he would follow this precedent set by the olc. but if there is an issue about whether justice can be had after he leaves office, i think that ought to get the justice department to examine whether either an exception to that policy is necessary or whether a reconsideration of that policy is in order. >> the prosecutors said today that ami, the parent company of the national enquirer, made that hush money payment in cooperation, consultation and concert with and at the request and suggestion of one or more members or agents of the candidate's 2016 presidential campaign. that's a direct quote. so what might ami be able to reveal about president trump's role in all of this? >> well, that's really the million-dollar question. and that is, did ami, its
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officers, have direct contact with donald trump about this? were they part of the conversations where they either offered or the president solicited the help that they provided in capturing and killing these stories. so was that -- were they part of direct conversations, direct communications with donald trump? that would obviously be the most powerful evidence. or were they in communication with others in the trump organization that would corroborate michael cohen? >> the head of ami, and we've been showing viewers pictures of david pecker, he has an immunity agreement in exchange for his full cooperation. allen weisselberg, chief financial officer of the trump organization, interestingly, also has an immunity agreement in exchange for his full cooperation. and there's been a sense, at least among some that i know, that weisselberg, he knows a lot. he knows everything that was going on. is he a big deal, potentially? >> well, he certainly could be
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on great many issues. this hush money payment, considering that it is alleged that he had a role in that. but it may also be that with respect to other information michael cohen can provide about the trump organization, about the effort to make this trump tower deal in moscow or other financial entanglement with the russians, you would imagine that the cfo, chief financial officer, or the accountant for the organization itself, may know where the financial bodies are buried. so it could be obviously a very key witness. >> as we have been discussing, you've said that the president could be indicted while he's in office, after he leaves office, related to the michael cohen crimes. but the president told reuters last night that he was simply relying on his lawyer, namely michael cohen, and that there was no violation, he said, because the payments were civil. what do you make of that defense? >> i don't make much of it, honestly, given the nature of the discussions.
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i think there will be ample opportunity for the department if it pursues this to demonstrate that the president knew what he was doing was wrong. knew what he was doing was unlawful, and was prepared to do it anyway. what we have found consistently, wolf, is you can't rely on any of the president's representations. because, of course, he said he knew nothing about this. he had no discussions with it. now we know all of that is false. he said when the sentencing memoranda came out that essentially, thank you, that has completely vindicated me when it was completely the opposite. so the last person we can rely on this is donald trump. but nonetheless, the department needs hard evidence. they may very well have it. and i think it's vitally important that the department adhere to the principle no one is above the law. and all of the arguments they made against michael cohen, all of the arguments they made as to why the seriousness of this offense justified his going to jail, that the rich and powerful don't operate by a set of different standards as those
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that were precincts or putting bumper stickers on the car or making calls. all of those arguments apply with even greater force to mr. trump. >> very quickly, our last question, congressman. cohen is scheduled now to begin his prison sentence in early march. you're going to be the chairman of the house intelligence committee. are you going to call cohen to testify before your committee before he starts that prison sentence? >> we are already in touch with his counsel. we are very eager to have him come and testify. i was very pleased to see today that one of his lawyers issued a statement saying that he is more than willing to come and cooperate and share what he knows with us. and we certainly intend to take him up on that. >> publicly, will he appear before the cameras? >> you know, we'll have to make a decision on a case-by-case basis which interviews are conducted in open session and which in closed session. that may be the product of some internal discussion and debate, or agreement with witnesses,
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depending on the circumstances. so at this point, i can't say. >> we're voting for open session with the cameras there, as you probably fully understand. congressman adam schiff, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you. the breaking news continues here in "the situation room." we're learning details of president trump's reaction to michael cohen's sentencing. the president said to be seething at his former fixer and lawyer. and what legal troubles could the president be facing as the mueller investigation closes in? ♪ let's do the thing that you do. let's clear a path. let's put down roots. let's build something. let's do the thing that you do. let's do the thing that changes the shape of everything... that pushes us forward and keeps us going.
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following breaking news.
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president trump said to be seething at his former fixer and lawyer, michael cohen, who has been sentenced to three years in prison. our chief white house correspondent, jim acosta, joining us now. jim, so far the president, i understand, hasn't said anything publicly today about cohen's sentence. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. president trump bit his tongue, turning down a chance to weigh in on michael cohen's prison sentence. the president isn't likely to maintain that silence for very long as the special counsel's investigation is now moving on to its next targets. the president, as you said, wolf, said to be seething, furious about cohen's case and referring to his former fixer behind the scenes as a, quote, liar. at the unveiling of a new executive order at the white house, president trump's signature was punctuated with silence. that spoke volumes. as he refused to comment on the three-year sentence handed down to his long-time fixer, michael cohen. >> mr. president! >> anything about the cohen sentencing? >> mr. president, your reaction -- >> mr. president! >> reporter: the president is now in a fix, as cohen heads to prison for his role in hush money payments to two women who
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alleged affairs with mr. trump before the 2016 election. cohen, tweeting, when you go to prison for defrauding america, your room and board will be free, told prosecutors he was directed to make payments by the president. that's not how the president explained it to reporters earlier this year. >> mr. president, did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy daniels? >> no. no. well, you have to ask michael cohen. michael is my -- an attorney. and you'll have to ask michael cohen. >> reporter: despite the mounting legal worries for the president, he insists he's not afraid of being impeached, telling reuters, i'm not concerned. no. i think that the people would revolt if that happened. but a source close to the president told cnn, mr. trump sees impeachment as a real possibility. as explained to voters before the mid terms. >> they like to use the impeach word. impeach trump. maxine waters, we will impeach him. but he didn't do anything wrong. it doesn't matter, we will impeach him! how do you impeach somebody that's doing a great job.
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that hasn't done anything wrong? our economy is good. how do you do it? >> reporter: the president is blaming the mistress money on his former attorney, saying michael cohen is a lawyer. i'm assuming he would know what he's doing. and as for other campaign aides and associates en snared in the russia probe, mr. trump campaigns, the stuff you're talking about is peanuts stuff. >> the last time chuck, you shut it down. >> reporter: the president may still decide to shut down the government to secure funding for his border wall. the subject of his oval office brawl with democratic leaders. senate minority leader chuck schumer all but accused the president of acting like a child. >> because leader pelosi and i didn't go along with him, president trump threw a tamper tantrum and promised to shut the government. >> reporter: with a spending bill expiring before the holidays, the president doesn't sound like he's backing down. >> if it's shut down, it's on all of our houses. i don't think president trump is bluffing, and i don't think speaker pelosi is going to give an inch, because she wants to be
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speaker. >> reporter: the president is pointing to the latest terror attack in france as proof the u.s. needs the wall, tweeting, we are going to strengthen our borders even more. chuck and nancy must give us the votes to give additional border security. but a wall would not have helped in france, where authorities say the suspect in that attack was born in that country. as for michael cohen, his saga may not be over just yet. one former adviser to cohen, former attorney to michael cohen, lanny davis, says the president's former fixer is open to testifying in front of the cameras when democrats take control of the house early next year. wolf, as adam schiff was just telling you a few moments ago, that could certainly be in front of his committee but other committees, as well, according to lanny davis. sounds like michael cohen wants to continue to tell his side of the story. wolf? >> certainly does. jim acosta at the white house, thank you. we're going to talk about all of the breaking news. our experts are here, our correspondents and our analysts. we have lots to discuss right after this. ♪ there's no place like home ♪
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argh! i'm trying... ♪ yippiekiyay. ♪ mom. ♪ breaking news. president trump's former attorney, michael cohen, told a federal judge today he committed multiple crimes in order to, his words, cover up donald trump's dirty deeds. the judge sentenced cohen to three years in prison, but cohen says he's willing to continue cooperating with his special counsel, robert mueller's russia investigation. let's get some more from our experts and correspondents.
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you know, you were there with the president. you were the pool reporter when the president was speaking about another issue. a bunch of reporters shouted questions. what did you think? didn't want to talk about this at all, kaitlan. >> didn't say anything. and you can tell when president trump does want to speak at events like that. because it wasn't that long ago, back in april, that after the fbi first rayided michael cohens house, office, hotel, the president was focused on syria and he's flanked by military officers. and when reporters came into the report, the president started speaking about michael cohen, saying the raid was a disgrace and calling michael cohen a good man. times have changed a lot. president trump did not want to answer any questions about michael cohen today about him being sentenced to three years in prison, although he did say he thought michael cohen should get the full sentence for what he did. but also one of president trump's biggest arguments with this and his legal team, including rudy guiliani, is that this is not directly related to the president. but it's going to be hard for them to argue that today after
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what we saw not only with michael cohen and being directly related to the president and implicating the president, but also now that the prosecutors have said they reached this deal with ami, the publisher of the national enquirer, directly tying that payment to karen mcdougal, who alleged an affair with trump to the trump campaign. >> and the president is being described as seething right now as a result of all of this. jeffrey, the three-year sentence that michael cohen got, what's the message that sends to the president? >> well, you know, it's a serious sentence. under federal law, you always have to serve 85% of what you get. so he's looking at at least two-and-a-half years in prison for a white collar sentence. that's a lot. and it is also a message that people around the president are going to prison. i mean, you know, a year ago, you had told any of us that michael cohen would be going to prison, we would all have been flabbergasted. this guy was really close to the president. >> for a decade. >> for a decade. but because this has been in the news so much, we sort of lost our ability to be shocked.
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but it's worth remembering, this is pretty shocking. >> michael cohen, sabrina, managed to say that he takes full responsibility for his crimes, but at the same time, implicating the president of the united states today. so what is his strategy now? >> michael cohen is someone who just over a year ago said he would take a bullet for the president. but a lot can change in just over a year. and i think what michael cohen learned is that when it comes to this president, loyalty is a one-way street. and sources close to michael cohen, they told me he's been -- he's felt abandoned by this president. he first was disappointed not to get a job in this administration and then when these legal troubles mounted, he felt like the president left him out to dry, also trying to undermine his character in several tweets that michael cohen himself and i think that, you know, it's certainly safe to say you have to take some of michael cohen's comments about going down this dark path because his blind loyalty to trump with a grain of salt.
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there are several crimes he committed that he was charge ared for that have nothing to do with the president. but he also had a very clear message to president trump which effectively amounted to, if i'm going down, i'm taking you down with me. and that's precisely why the president was so concerned about cohen and his cooperation with investigators. >> you know, ron brownstein, the whole ami, the david pecker, the parent company of the national enquirer, that is all of a sudden -- he's got immunity in exchan exchange for full cooperation. very damning statements from the national en firer, american media, david pecker, as far as the president is concerned. but listen to this tape. this is michael cohen and the president talking about the hush money payments involving karen mcdougal and the name allan weisselberg all of a sudden comes up. listen to this audiotape. >> i've spoken to allan weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with -- >> so what are we going to -- pay? >> yes. and it's all the stuff --
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>> allen weisselberg, chief financial officer of the trump organization also received immunity in exchange for his cooperation, presumably he's cooperating. they don't grant these kinds of immunity deals very easily, do they? >> no. and, in fact, if you're sitting there, you know, as the president in the white house and you're looking at all of these other principles in these transactions, receiving immunity, you have to ask yourself, who is left that they are -- that they are exempting these people so as to provide testimony about it? and the answer is, of course, only the president. and all of this is indication of why these charges are a time bomb politically that have not fully detonated yet. you have the president's fixer and lawyer going to jail in part for crimes that the prosecutors -- not only mr. cohen, but the prosecutor said he committed at the direction of and in coordination with the president. we've had republicans essentially shrugging their shoulders, saying no big deal. but the fact that the president is an unindicted co conspirator
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and for all intents in these crimes at this point is something i think is going to reverberate in unpredictable ways through the next two years. adam schiff, the pressure on the justice department to reconsider, not indicting a sitting president. there are going to be a lot of ways in which this is going to roil the political environment through the 2020 election. >> i wrote a profile for the "new yorker" last year and he was very open about the fact that he paid karen mcdougal because he wanted to help donald trump. and, you know, the legal implications of that, i don't think, were clear to any of us at that point. but the admission was clearly there. and, you know, it's all -- it's important to remember, who benefited from these payments? not michael cohen. not the national enquirer. because they didn't even run anything. it wasn't even a pay to play story. it was a catch and kill story. they killed the story about karen mcdougal. all of this was done for the benefit of donald trump. and the idea that he didn't know about it is pretty preposterous. >> and president trump has not spoken out about david pecker
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yet. but you know he's got to feel betrayed by this, as he does with michael cohen. michael cohen has been one of those sensitive points for president trump since that raid happened in april, and though the president didn't say anything publicly today to us, you can bet a tweet is likely coming, because behind the scenes, he's seething, we're told, talking about what a liar michael cohen is. but he's not answering the obvious questions, which is, if you still deny that you had affairs with these women, then why did you make these payments? and if there is nothing wrong with these payments, as he told reuters yesterday during that interview, he doesn't believe they're campaign finance violations, why did he deny knowing about the payments? >> just wait until we hear what allen weisselberg has to say about this, because we don't know. presumably the prosecutors do know. more breaking news, just ahead. as you get older. s but prevagen helps your brain with an ingredient originally discovered... in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory. prevagen. healthier brain. better life. if your adventure...
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more breaking news. the british prime minister, theresa may, has just survived a no confidence vote triggered by members of her own conservative party over her handling of britain's upcoming exit from the european union.
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cnn business editor at large, richard quest is with us and matthew chance is also working the story for us. first to you, matthew in london. what's the latest? >> reporter: tonight, theresa may, the british prime minister, still has a job. she's still the british prime minister. she has overcome that vote of confidence from within her own party about her leadership. but it's exposed enormous rifts in her party. more than 100 mps, 117, voted against her leadership, 37% of the number of mps that the conservative party has. and that underlines just how divided her party is. and, of course, even though she's won tonight, it doesn't mean that the problem of brexit has gone away by any means. she's still a prime minister caught between a rock and a hard place. and, of course, the crisis she's overcome means that all we are now is back to a situation where we were yesterday, which is that
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the crisis of brexit still remains. she has still got a divided party, still has to go back to brussels to try and seek concessions on that deal. and then present it to not just her party, but to the parliament here in britain here behind me, which is also divided. and so, you know, the future in terms of theresa may bringing this country back together, bringing her party back together, looks very bleak indeed, wolf. >> richard, now that she has survived this challenge, at least for the time being, what does it mean for the brexit deal? >> and we don't know, wolf. that is the difficulty. today was a political firework show. now it's gone. we're back to the hard grind. and the reality is that nobody -- and that includes, say, the u.s. government, the administration. nobody knows what the position of britain will be in. will it be a hard brexit? where britain could wreak havoc
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in the economies around the world? will it be a soft brexit? will donald trump be able to offer theresa may some form of trade -- free trade deal olive branch? and that raises a whole rift of questions about the relationship between the u.k. and its closest overseas partner, the united states of america. so our dilemma is to find a choice of equally unappealing choices. that's what's in tonight. theresa may survived, but there are so many difficulties that we are by no means out of this, and the u.s. -- the trump administration, wolf, will be watching it with alarming concern over what the trade relationship with the uk will be like. >> bottom line, richard, we don't know how this is going to play out. >> none whatsoever. and as i've said before to you, wolf, if anybody says they know how this is going to end, don't buy a bridge from them. >> i won't buy any bridges. richard quest, thank you. matthew chance in london, thanks
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to you, as well. coming up, more on the breaking news. president trump's former attorney and long-time fixer, michael cohen, admitted in federal court today that he covered up his boss' so-called dirty deeds. does cohen have more information to offer prosecutors? but first, russia is accusing the united states of torturing the alleged spy, maria butina. stand by. new information. we'll be right back. [clap, clap] ♪ hey, jen, which tie says, "trustworthy but also fun"? gold down, oil up. oil down, gold up. this is too busy. we need to make sure people can actually use this stuff. which one says, "hours of free live streaming coverage without cable or subscription fees"? aluminum, aluminum? you ready, zack? oh, we're ready. welcome to the show. let's make finance make sense. ♪ your insurance rates skyrocket you could fix it with a pen. how about using that pen to sign up for new insurance instead?
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new tonight, top russian officials are jumping to the dedependence of maria butina, the accused spy who allegedly tried to infiltrate conservative political organizations. our senior correspondent fred pleitgen is tracking the story for us from moscow. fred, what are you learning? >> reporter: yeah, wolf. for some russian officials, maria butina has become somewhat of a cause for them, especially the russian foreign ministry which even changed its twitter picture to a picture of maria butina. what they're doing now is they're already saying that plea agreement that she is officially going to sign on to tomorrow, that she is doing that under duress and they are saying that she is a political prisoner in the united states. i got an exclusive interview today with a spokeswoman of the russian foreign ministry and here are some of the things she said as she ripped into the u.s. just hours before alleged
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russian agent masria butina is set to enter a plea with u.s. authorities and after she has begun cooperating with investigators, moscow lashing out at america. the spokes woman for russian foreign ministry with an exclusive interview with cnn claiming she is a political prisoner and going further. >> it is not about justice. it is not justice. it is just inquisition. it is medieval inquisition because she's intimidated, she was tortured and treated not like a human being, not like a woman. >> reporter: there is nothing to indicate that butina, who is in solitary confinement, has been tortured while in u.s. custody. cnn has learned she gets regular visits from her lawyer and boyfriend and is able to speak to her parents in russia. however, the hours she is allowed out of her cell are minimal and usually at night to prevent her from interacting with the regular prison population. when contacted by cnn, the
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justice department refused to comment as the case is still pending. russia itself is often accused of jailing and killing dissidents and opposition figures for political reasons, claims the kremlin denies. butina, who cozied up to the national rifle association and other conservative agencies is accused of working in the u.s. without registering as a foreign agent. >> if she can explain who the officials were, what she was tasked with doing, what steps she took to conduct the tasks and who, if anyone, was complicit in the activities here in the united states. >> reporter: her arrest was announced on the day president trump met vladimir putin in helsinki, moscow alleging the timing of the announcement was political. >> all that happened is after the two presidents met each other and held negotiations and, of course, that was another evidence that this is a political case and she is a political prisoner. >> reporter: after the deal and
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her eventual release from jail, butina will probably have to return to russia where officials are already making her out to be a victim of the turmoil between the u.s. and russia. so one of the things that we expect, wolf, is when she does come back to russia after having most probably been in jail in the united states, she probably will get a warm welcome here from the russians, which is a lot different than what the rierns a rie russians are feeling between u. u.s./russian relations. it has showcased that the russians are losing faith in president trump and that he will be able to restore good relations with the russians. that's something president trump set out to do, something the russians believe. they were happy when he was elected. it is one of the things the spokeswoman for the foreign ministry believes, that things are looking dire for the prospects, wolf. >> fred pleitgen from moscow. thank you. an important story. more breaking news, president trump said to be seething as his former fixer and
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lawyer implements him in crimes that now have michael cohen facing three years in prison. ♪ just look at those two. happy. in love. and saving so much money on their car insurance by switching to geico... well, just look at this setting. do you have the ring? oh, helzberg diamonds. another beautiful setting. i'm not crying. i've just got a bit of sand in my eyes, that's all. geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance.
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news. dirty deeds. as michael cohen is ordered to do time in prison, he says his crimes were all about covering up for the president. with his former-fixer being punished, will mr. trump pay a price? influencing the election. in a deal with prosecutors, a tabloid publisher admits to its role in one of cohen's crimes involving a hush-money pay-off to a playboy model. what other secrets were spilled and did they incriminate the president? seething. we're told the president is furious at michael cohen tonight, calling him a liar in private, even as he stays silent in public. is he feeling the heat from the russia probe and the growing talk of impeachment? and russian spy craft. an accused-kremlin operative, maria butina, is cooperating with the feds. new questions are being raised at the same time about her connections to russian intelligence agencies. we could find out how much she really knows when she is in the federal courtroom


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