tv Inside Politics CNN December 14, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PST
and celebrate the everyday people who are changing the world. you can donate from your laptop, tablet or phone. your donation in any amount will help them help others. thanks. >> and go to cnnheroes.com because the nominations are open now. thanks so much for joining me. inside politics with john king starts right now. thank you, kate and welcome to inside politics. i'm john king. thank you for sharing your day with us. michael cohen said his long time boss is lying again. he awarded hush money payments late in the campaign and he knew the scheme broke campaign finance laws. a poll ranks the 2020 democratic contenders. spoiler alert, joe biden tops the field. can you guess the order from
there? holiday season smiles from the president's first and second white house chief of staff. he's close to picking a third. >> we are interviewing people now for chief of staff. five people. really good ones. terrific people. mostly well-known, but terrific people. >> we begin the hour with new details from the president's hatchet man and new reporting on the president's deepening legal troubles. sources confirm that federal prosecutors are investigating the trump inaugural committee for possible financial abuses for more than 1$100 million. we have confirmation through court documents and cnn reporting that the trump campaign, the trump transition, the trump inauguration, the trump administration, the trump organization, and the trump foundation are all under investigation. these investigations spread across all levels of government
and span a variety of alleged illegal acts, including campaign finance violations, tax fraught, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents. michael cohen said he spent a decade lying for the president. the president and the white house said because he admits to lying and because a court convicted him of lying, his words should carry little weight, but cohen said you should believe him now. part of the evidence corroborate this is latest story. >> you pleaded guilty to lying to congress. >> yes. >> why should we believe you now? >> because the special counsel stated emphatically that the information i gave to them is credible and helpful. this is a substantial amount of information that they possess that corroborates the fact that i am telling the truth. >> mj lee, why did michael cohen
make this does decision to speak out now? >> it's very, very clear that michael cohen wants to end up on the right side of history, but that journey of winning back credibility is going to be a long one, but he made it clear that he wants to start telling the truth and another big piece is he wants to do right by his family who he knows he had disappointed very much with all of this that happened. what was striking in watching this interview is that he does sound more realistic when it comes to this warped and unhealthy relationship he had with donald trump, his former boss. he said and acknowledges that he genuinely had a good time working at the trump organization. he said that donald trump was someone he really did admire and said that in the course of working for donald trump, he did become blindly loyal to his boss and he said that was his excuse
for why he ended up doing the things that ended up getting him in trouble. but there are obviously two parts of this. there is a personal evolution of michael cohen, but also the real world ramifications for what it means for the president of the united states. i don't think we should lose sight of what it is that michael cohen is alleging about the president. he is saying in the plainest english possible that donald trump lied. he said he lied about the hush payments to the woman and he also said he is lying about the russia investigation. obviously what we don't know to the full extent is what exactly he told the investigators and what more he might have to say in the coming months. john? >> excellent points. live for us in new york. with me to share their reporting, lisa lair of the "new york times." cnn's mallika henderson. the last point she makes is the key one.
these investigations and other investigations as well of the trump foundation and the trump organization. what he said now is i'm telling the truth now. my latest story and the special counsel corroborates all of this. they have other witnesses and documents about this. it's felony campaign finance violations. one of the things cohen knows something about is the trump tower meeting with don, jr. michael cohen is a giant witness here. >> we cannot say enough. he's not the only one. what we have learned this week, the trump organization and what this investigation in the southern district of new york is revealing and looking at is much
more potentially damaging for this president as far as what we know right now. the mueller probe down here in washington. i think who trump is not talking about this week, david pecker is a name who is not that much of a household name, but a very close to the president and the parent company of the "national enquirer." his cooperation withed the government is fascinating and why hasn't the president said anything about him? >> pecker is cooperating. michael cohen is not alone and at least the southern district of new york, they have other witnesses to check and triple check and quadruple check. the russia investigation could get steeper if the dealings could relate. if the president did know about the trump tower meeting, his lies are exposed. we do know from the southern district of new york, they think they have a clear cut felony
finance case against the president. he said no, michael cohen was my lawyer. i did what he said, if there was any illegality, blame the lawyer. here's the explanation. >> i never directed him to do anything wrong. he's a lawyer who represents a client and they are supposed to do the right thing. that's why you pay them a lot of money. he's a lawyer. he represents a client. i never directed him to do anything incorrect or wrong. he understands that. >> that's the president. george stephanopoulos? >> he said he never directed you to do anything wrong. >> nothing at the trump organization was ever done unless it was run through mr. trump.
>> he was trying to height hide it and he knew it was wrong? >> of course. >> he was doing it for his election? >> you have to look at the point of time that this matter came about, two weeks or so before the election, post the billy bush comments. so yes, he was very concerned about how this would affect the election. >> it is that last part when reminded of the chronology, a lot of people used the john edwards defense. forget about it. the "access hollywood" tape came out and the president said things that amount to felony sexual assault and stormy daniels comes up and they make it go away. that part is where you get damning not only about michael cohen's testimony, he knew it was wrong and illegal and connected the dots to what make it a campaign finance violation. this was not about saving melania or the president from
embarrassment. >> he makes a good point. remember the moment where he said he had no knowledge of the payments whatsoever and all of the movements of the explanations that we see, that's why it's so much more difficult for -- especially people on capitol hill. the democrats never bought it anyway, but they are having a difficult time accepting the explanations. i had a lot of interesting conversations about the president's legal woes and his allies were pointing out that michael cohen is a proven liar. how do you trust him? we are at a point where he is talking to the prosecutors and giving them everything he knows. no doubt that is dangerous to the president. >> your point about that. the republican party's rational, the republican party's rational is the party of see no evil. they are all liars. they're okay with that? it's a bunch of liars.
>> the problem here is not just about lying. one of the most interesting things was the story about this other investigation and whether foreign governments and entities were sneaking money into the me is and donations. that was an interesting detail. there was an audio tape of michael cohen talking to a woman at the committee that pulled out in the rate of his home. there is cape of him talking about this. there is documents. we don't know what the prosecutors have, but they probably have a lot. >> to that point in the political debate, the president manages to keep republicans to run away and say don't ask me these questions, but every court
filing has documentation. even the president's supporters look at what mueller put in and said these guys are good. they are talking about sure, i have told lies, but so has my former boss. >> he knows the truth. i know the truth. others know the truth. here is the truth. the people of the united states of america, people of the world don't believe what he is saying. the man doesn't tell the truth. it's sad that i should take responsibility for his dirty deeds. >> she the is trying to say it'e on trump than him, but he is no saint here. his non-trump-related crimes are pretty serious that have nothing to do with the president. that's why he is going to jail. if you are the president of the united states and you run this business where you say jump and
people say how high. the trump campaign and the frump white house. everything is under investigation and the guy was that close to the deal. there are others. >> yeah, yeah. there are others and if you look at him in that interview, he seems so agitated. he almost seemed like he was someone on the witness stand arguing with a judge. then michael cohen is no saint and he seems relieved. he is going to jail for the crimes he committed he said in connection with donald trump donald trump. t he was all over the place saying he was a low level pr guy, but also somebody. he was all over the place saying he was a low level pr guy, but also somebody who duped
welcome back. the president said michael cohen is a liar, not to be believed. the more information we learned from 40 filings and our reporting, the more the president's story changes. here are a few examples on the question of whether a campaign workers had ties or meetings with russians. back in 2017, no person i deal with does. now we know of at least 16 such contacts. no deals, no loans, no nothing.
they went on well into the campaign. the trump tower meeting with the russian lawyer, the first statement signed off on by the president said it was about adoption. after reporting, no, it was about obtain iing information. then the hush payments. he didn't know about the payment and where he got the money. trump tweeted he did have the matters that had nothing to do with the campaign. yesterday, the president tweeted i never directed michael cohen to break the law. he was a lawyer and supposed to know the law. cnn analyst joins the conversation. he wouldn't be a good client. in the court of public opinion, i understand as the facts change. the president is trying to manage the political environment. in a court of law, if you were making a case how does that
affect your story? >> sure. in the public discussion, we don't need michael cohen to tell us the president lies. it is well document and so many things he says and puts out public information that turns out to be false or false when he says it. the difference is what are the fact that he put in the written answers and the president put in his written answers to the special counsel's office. that's an example of something under oath that can be proven or disproven by other evidence they have. whether or not they are under investigations into financial irregularity and finance regulations and whether or not that involves statement by the president under oath or official government capacity where he is providing information, that's where he potentially is exposed to legal jeopardy.
>> ken starr argued and will robert mueller argue, that can be part of obstruction. if you are lying to the american people, you are trying to change the narrative. this is the president speaking to fox news yesterday talking about the michael cohen case. he said this is not a serious criminal matter. they are just trying to embarrass me. >> either cohen or the prosecutors, in order to embarrass me, said listen, i'm making this deal for reduced time and everything. do me a favor and put these two changes on. >> to the point karen was making, they are criminal charges. they are laid out in a document changing michael cohen and individual number one, we can have an argument should any finance be a felony. the trump justice department said in a court filing these are felony criminal charms. >> the president is acting on the information he heard from his lawyers. we have seen an amazing
consistency. uppa capitol hill as well. they have done the same thing. as you said earlier, irrelevant. that was not the situation here. the president is trying to embarrass me. he didn't say it didn't happen. that's a message to his base. they are trying to embarrass me. >> why are we going here? into his personal stuff? it helped bill clinton keep support. it's a political conversation, but i would love the lawyer's opinion. this is rudy giuliani. once america's mayor and then a prosecutor, nobody got killed. nobody got robbed. this was not a big crime, giuliani told the daily beast. they will start with parking tickets that haven't been pate. i'm sorry, it's his former law partner who happens to be the u.s. attorney in the southern
district of new york. what is the point of that? the president is accused of crimes, but nobody got killed. the president and his national security adviser is going jail. his long time lawyer is going to jail. his campaign chairman. deputy campaign chairman, but nobody got killed so it's okay? >> this is what they are not articulating. this is when they drag in the republicans on the hill who try to convey that this is not as important as other things. there is not a strong press depth in terms of actual cases that have been prosecuted of hush money payments to women constitutesing campaign finance violations. of the justice department said they are interpreting finance law to be that and they would have to take a case forward to prove that. there actually is not a strong precedent for these types it of cases to be prosecuted. that's not to minimize the way
that the justice department is prosecuting the case. they can only bring cases that they legitimately would succeed on the merit. that is the standard which they charge michael cohen. the bigger question is, would senate republicans actually vote to impeach, for example, on this particular charge. you can pass articles of impeachment and doesn't mean politically you should. the republicans are trying to minimize this in part so that if democrats give in to their base and they are taking impeachment. it's a big deal. it's three times in american history and something you want
to make sure you use for a big deal. they are trying to make the ground work to make it look like they overreach. let's see where this goes. they are not campaign finance violations. you have some republicans and this is where it gets interesting. you do have republicans and what are we doing here in terms of lowering the standard. i will solemnly swear to that to the best of my ability i will defend the constitution of the united states except where nobody gets killed or robbed. taking what giuliani said and twisting it there. two republicans and a democrat all with experience in campaign finance law, the bad arguments being floated are emblematic
with respect to the rule of law. chief among the values of our country, no one whether it's a senator or president should pretend america is something less. >> you heard this conversation and it was also that op ed in the "washington post." it was like 10 former republicans basically saying these types of things. also that the senate has a duty to basically be a check on the president and the president's hour. you weren't really hearing that from the current senators. you are hearing a version of what orrin hatch said. he doesn't really care and it doesn't rise to the level of impeachment of something he should hear about. lindsey graham saying the same thing. i think it's true that most democrats, certainly the people who will be in leadership. they also remember what happened to bill clinton and yeah, i think you will have this ongoing
dynamic waiting to figure out. >> this was not a blowout elections. covering this up could influence the election. >> i'm one of the founders of checks and balances. the bigger point is that it is bizarre to have the president undermining law enforcement. >> almost daily. >> on a daily basis and this is the most recent example. he is undermining his own justice department and that is an untenable situation for someone who has taken an oath to the constitution. >> to the point, it's an opportunity for the republicans to speak up and say they are lying. up next, 690 days away. what's that? election day 2020. who is topping the not so short list of possible democratic white house hopefuls?
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and two-hour appointment windows. click, call or visit a store today. welcome back. it's hard to call it breaking news given that the caucuses are 416 days away. he thinks through that they have what it takes or if they think they have what it takes. they have new poll numbers on the very, very early state of the democratic race. joe biden tops the field. bernie sanders was second.
beto o'rourke falls into 30. cory booker, john kerry, elizabeth warren. these are the top seven. joe biden, you are a shoe in. let's look at what democrats and independents have a favorable opinion. elizabeth warren above water. the lower numbers are not bad news. it just means the newcomers are not well-known nationally. remember that first number. does that mean he will be the nominee. jeb bush was the run away favorite. ben carson and mike huckabee. there is a name missing from the list. no trump. no trump. he was not even a factor in the race. the first time we saw his numbers is when you get to may
of 2015. then at 3%. 17 days later, he announced he was running for president. you know the rest. he is president. just because you are not doing well in the polls now doesn't say much about what will happen in 2020. as the democrats sort it out, the current president of the united states said i don't think i have to worry about that this time. >> the greatest history of politics. people i love and love me that includes a lot of women. the polls are really fake. i have the greatest base in history. the 46 and 48%, those people never wavered. >> he's probably right based on everything we know today. he probably doesn't have that challenge. we will see. the conversation about the democrats.
the lesser known candidates. can i build a staff and beat joe biden? can i beat bernie sanders? >> can i make democrats fall in love with me? that's one of the things he talked about in terms of how his base feels. he can connect with people on an emotional level. people don't want to fall in line. they want to fall in love. beto had big crowds and a lot of money. lebron james endorsement and beyonce. that's why he is at 9%. >> he is a black box. a lot of people don't know a lot about him. the numbers that struck me was elizabeth warren unfavorable rating was fairly high. she is perhaps the furthest along in terms it of actual
planning for an announcement, but you look at the numbers and you say she has a lot of work to do to change minds. that's about a third of leaders who have a negative view of her. >> the president likes to single her out. >> that are should maybe help her with democratic voters. >> you would think unless it's overtime having an effect. >> if you are joe biden, twice as high as anybody else. in 2008, rudy giuliani was going to be the nom neechlt at this point on the democratic side, hillary clinton was going to be the nominee. in 2004, i didn't remember this, but hillary clinton was leading there. if you are joe biden and you are going to run, you would be breaking to fight history. >> anyone thinking about getting in, get in now. they don't know if biden is going to run or not.
all the comparisons to obama in january of 2007. he was not the candidate. he was when he started and when he finished that. year proved to be a massive obstacle course and marathon. the question is who can have a second act. it's not about the second. hillary was to be the nominee and iowa happened and everything changed. that's why so many people will probably run, but i'm not convinced it will be as big of a list. >> 416 days. start working on the road show and get there soon enough. to that point, the results of the first cnn register will be revealed tomorrow night. 8:00 p.m. eastern. see how the 2020 potentials are scoring and in the lead off caucus, watch us sunday morning and we will kick the numbers around. kyle just announced resignation
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2020. sources tell cnn to look for an announcement as early as this weekend. the likely choice is martha mcsally who just lost for the other senate seat. he originally had resistant to her because she just lost, but senator kyle is for this and they are working to make it happen and happen fast. >> for mitch mcconnell is for martha mcsally and he has been lobbying hard for that appointment. she lost a tough race to kyrsten sinema. >> her concession was so gracious in that video. almost seemed like i should be in the senate. >> she said kyle it is her mentor. >> it seems like that will happen. >> it's good to add to the ranks of women in the senate. >> to the mcconnell point, there
a lot of other republican points. the tea party people and he wants someone who is going to vote with him all the time and establishment reliable. >> not going to give him a headache. >> the president is searching for a new chief of staff. who is in are the running and who wants the job? ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ this holiday season, families near you need your help.
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>> the president narrowing his list to be chief of staff. one is chris christie who met with the president yesterday to discuss the job. sources stressing no offer was made. his former campaign adviser and the acting attorney general, matt whitaker. unusual to let your current chief of staff say i'm leaving without having a replacement.
nick ayers said no, thank you. >> all this has been in a week. a week ago the president thought he was going to name nick ayers. the president himself came out and said john kelly is leaving. that is being created here. the reality is that there are many people who do not want this job at all for all of the reasons we have been talking about all hour long. many people coming in and talking to the president, including the former governor of new jersey are doing so i believe oust respect and they want to give him advice. they want him to succeed. many people do not want the job. those three are potentials and they are in the white house in lower level positions who could be elevated. a deputy chief of staff or a coupler to the president or others. it's a challenging, challenging job.
>> it was a job everyone in town wanted. you have control over and direct line to the president. the gatekeeper among gatekeepers. traditionally, historically this is a powerful job. it's amazing. >> if you take it, you lead the white house with a tattered reputation. he left with his reputation intact, but john kelly did not. he came in as the adult in the room and now not so much. >> to that point we have the pictures worth a thousand words. this is john kelly and reince priebus. the white house is always beautiful at christmastime. i got the messages from republicans yesterday who were at one of the receptions. the president went out of his way to heap praise on jared
kushner jared kushnand they too- is there any chance he would ask his son-in-law to be his chief of staff? >> sources it is that's not in the mix. we never know what's going to happen until he makes the actual decision, but that smile on john kelly's face, i don't think i have seen him smile that large before. unfortunately for him the spokesperson indicated he may have to stick around until the new year. beyond the new year. >> the fact that eggnog will give you a rest. >> eggnog. >> a smile of a man. i know the smile of a man who sees the off-ramp. michael flynn helped them substantially. why is the president still singing his praises?
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general and a respected person and a nice man and i don't know what he said about me. maybe they scared him enough that he will make up a story. i have a feeling that maybe he didn't. he's a tougher kind of a guy than cohen. >> tougher kind of a guy than cohen. is his anger at cohen warping his view of flynn. the defendant's assistance to the government has substantial and merits consideration at sentencing. some of that may not be fully realized because the investigations for which he provide provided assistance is ongoing. i read that and it said what are we waiting for? russia, collusion, business dealings. is the president so mad he is not understanding how big of a flynn problem he has? >> look, they don't -- the special counsel investigation is not giving you no jail time for
not talking. you earned that reward. clearly he is probably giving things up. >> the president's definition of if you are tough or not means you don't cooperate with law enforcement. it's undermining the justice department and the rule of law here. we will see what the sentence is when it comes out next tuesday. the judge does not have to follow the recommendation, but we don't know what the other investigations that the offense had out there. it might be involving the inauguration or the transition period. we don't know. >> i don't think the president is aware of this. i get his anger. but general flynn provided timely and substantial assistance and participated in 19 meetings and other components of the government totalling 62 hours and 45 minutes. general flynn produced thousands of documents to the department.
>> you fired flynn for lying. >> he said it's the fbi that duped michael flynn into lying. more of the things about flynn is he has a lot of supporters with grass roots folks and he was a big star at the convention and led the lock her up chants. trump is a little nervous about attacking him because he's a trump guy. >> the legal implications aside, the political implication and all the details with the new mem cos and the cooperation that michael flynn and others are giving him have serious ramifications on the hill as democrats look at the new details that come out with every new document and say this would be potential impeachment fodder and they take charge in a couple of weeks. >> we will wait for the memo and see how mueller responds. flynn is from rhode island and i started in rhode island. this is from an ap is it are and
it's wonderful. flynn has been having fun. random people approach him with hand shakes and respect for photos. a lucrative consulting gig could await him. the long time friend said i know he's not done. i don't know what he has up his sleeve. he wants to give and give and give. now i will say this. a lot of people think maybe you don't go to prison, but you committed crimes. you are a disgraced national security adviser. there are second chapters. that comes out at sentencing as well. >> remarkable story and fall from grace. one of the many chapters we know
little about. where is the special counsel going? we shall see. hope to see you back here sent morning as well. hope you can get up early. stay with us. a lot of breaking news still ahead. brianna keilar starts right now. have a great weekend. >> washington headquarters under way right now. says who? michael cohen. extraordinary moment. the president's long time fixer speaking out and going downswinging. trump's campaign, transition, inauguration, business, and his administration all under investigation. the walls are closing in. a 7-year-old migrant girl dying in u.s. custody at the border. we have new details on what happened. be careful what you wish for. president trump said he wishes john kasich would