tv The Beat With Ari Melber MSNBC December 15, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PST
broadcast for this friday night and for this week. thank you so very much for being here with us. have a good weekend. good night from nbc head quarters here in new york. i'm in for ari melber tonight. a storm of investigations slamming into donald trump on multiple fronts and late today, trump announcing a new pointman to help deal wit all, current trump budget director mick mulvaney will be the new chief of staff and he'll be facing a deluge of investigations on day one. hours after michael cohen spoke out for the first time since his sentencing rebutting claims from the president. as new audio of donald trump obliterates his own hush money
payments -- you heard there's a tweet for everything. in this case there's an actual recording. we are going play it for you. also, bob mueller undercutting trump's comments about flynn in a new court reporting. mick mulvaney the new chief of staff of the white house since michael cohen being sented to three months in prison, saying trump told cohen to pay hush payments even though trump knew it was wrong. >> nothing at the trump organization was ever done unless it was run through mr. trump. he directed me as i said in my elocution and i said as well in the plea, he directed many toe make the payments, he directed know become involved in these matters. >> he was trying to hide what you were doing, correct? >> correct. >> and he knew it was wrong. >> of course. >> and he was doing that to help his election. >> yes, he was very concerned
about how this would affect the election. >> to help his campaign. >> to help him and the campaign. >> you heard it there. cohen making it absolutely clear. two key claims. one, trump directed the payments. builds on nbc reporting that trump was in fact in the room with cohen and david pecker discussing the hush money payments in the campaign. the second claim is that trump knew it was illegal. here's the potentially danieling news for trump today -- new audio emergencies from 2012 showing that trump was indeed familiar with the relevant campaign finance laws, specifically how the law applied to the john edwards case. arguing that payments to his mistress were not campaign finance violations. in fact, they were personal payments. here's trump in 2012 revealing he was watching the case very closely.
>> i always thought he was a sleaze bag, frankly. this is a tough trial to start off with and a lot of people are saying it's not a trial the government is going win. a lot of good lawyers have told me the government doesn't have a good case. i think the spite what the lawyers are saying it's not a very good case for the government. >> trump saying on that recording he spoke to, quote, a lot of very good lawyers about the case. that isn't michael cohen saying trump new about the campaign finance law. it's trump destroying his own defense. with me now is maya wily, former prosecutor danielle goldman and alek is. the news mick mulvaney has been tapped as the chief of staff at the white house. give us a sense of your reading why mick mulvaney when the president is about to face an onslaught of investigations from multiple fronts.
>> this chief of staff search has been anything but normal. what's so wild in particular about this announcement today is that the first time we heard a source familiar with the transition that john kelly was out and mick mulvaney was the poern replace him was july 24th. i've heard it for so long. i think it's because trump views him as someone who will be loyal to him and do what he says. maybe not a john kelly type, but someone he's seen quietly behind the scenes fighting for this position for many, many months and showing the president he would be loyal to him in this position that trump otherwise views as adversarial to him. >> let's talk about mick mulvaney's expertise. does he have any kind of experience dealing with crises? not just as a lawyer, but as a
counselor to the president? does he have that kind of expertise? >> it's not clear he has that kind of legal expertise at a time when, as you're alluding to, the democrats will take over the house. they'll launch an onslaught of investigations into folks including trump and everyone around him. trump needs someone who can guide him on the legal and ethical matters in a way mick mulvaney is not clear to be able do. at the same time i think going through this i think what trump will want and need on a personal level is someone who can tell him what he wants to hear and make him feel better personally, but that's not going get him out of legal trouble or help him with legal matters. >> let's break down what cohen was saying today. comes on a day where trump has a new chief of staff. let's listen to what cohen had to say today. what was your takeaway from the michael cohen interview where he said the president directed him
every step of the way? >> he reiterated and said directly in terms of demeanor and attitude very credibly, this is something he understood and told me to do. i thought the most important thing he said, which was new, was making explicit and clear that donald trump knew everything that was happening in the donald trump organization. the reason that's happening is because of both the potential campaign finance crimes but also because there are other investigations going on out of the southern district of new york and the state around the trump administration. if that's a provable fact and you have michael cohen who's cooperating and says he'll continue to talk to prosecutors that means presumably he'll be able to give information that demonstrates -- i mean work don't know, but presumably he might be able to demonstrate that knowledge and knowledge is
critical if you have to show that someone had criminal intent. >> dan, i want to get your reaction as well. the point cohen made was a lot of what he was telling mueller mueller already now about. how critical is that with what people say, cohen is a lawyer, he's not to be trusted. >> far more important than cohen's sprf is the fact that the southern district asserted to a court that donald trump coordinated and directed michael cohen to make these payments because the southern district of new york, you'll remember, in april, did those searches and what they likely obtained is a treasure trove of information. the fact that they could say cohen was credible about that indicates they have more evidence. but the problem they run into or
the problem that the southern district runs into in the investigation of this administration is michael cohen is not cooperating with the southern district of the new york. he's in the a witness available to them right now and this is why he got three years in prison is he didn't go the full length he needed to in order to become a full-on signed up witness. he has provided information that they say is credible and forthright, but because he won't be fully debriefed and fully vetted they can't use him. >> to that point do you think the president is kind of kicking himself a little bit saying, i shouldn't have been speaking disparagingly of michael koe someone because if he wasn't as forthcoming as a witness or cooperating witness, he probably has been now since the president has been calling him weak, a liar. maybe michael cohen is saying i
shouldn't be that way anymore. >> no, because this is where the fact that the president can't be indict second down going hurt trump. if this goes to the senate, to trial, michael cohen can testify there. it's just he wouldn't testify in a criminal trial for campaign finance. we still have enough evidence to believe he did it, there's michael cohen, david pecker, there's documents, there's recordings. there's the coverup that hasn't gotten enough attention about how they cooked the books and records on how to funnel this through the trump administration. there's enough evidence to say donald trump did it but he could not necessarily be charged with it in a criminal court. >> the other part of the president's defense has been that michael cohen -- he told him, deal wit. the president was playing the card like he didn't know what the campaign finance laws were.
we have a recording of the president he knows very well what campaign finance laws were on the 2012 record wing played. is his argument essentially shattered now. is that recording that something lawyers can look at and say, you do know what the law was? >> i would start by saying it wasn't a credible argument to begin with based on all the facts we have in public, including the fact that donald trump himself lied about whether he even knew about the payments. if you weren't participating willfully in a crime, why are you lie something you know you're lying. you know you knew what you knew, unless he has an undiagnosed mental disorder we don't know about. there are tons of facts in this case including what michael cohen himself said and including there's a pattern of practice of a way of organizing the work that ami is doing in the case of karen mcdougal.
i think we are, to be fair to donald trump, are overstating the meaning of his statement. meaning saying you talked to lawyers about a different case and whether or not it was strong or not is not the same thing assaying y as saying you understand what a violation would be in your case. in terms of payments -- it's not enough someone saying i once talked to a lawyer about a different case and therefore i've blown my argument. i don't think it was credible to begin with. >> how many white-collar crimes can you get away with, the defense being, i didn't know it was a law. >> particularly when you have to certify on your campaign disclosures as head of the campaign. >> yeah, right. joining me now is jackie spear. he's out with a new article today where she asks bluntly, did putin buy donald trump? great to have you with us.
let's start with your reaction to what we are hear federal government michael cohen. what are you taking away? >> watching him, he looked like he was so exhausted he couldn't tell a lie anymore. i think that it's very clear that the special counsel has the goods on donald trump as it relates to his involvement in trying to secure the silence of these two women. the tapes that michael cohen had in his possession that the special counsel was able to obtain probably have more than enough evidence and you have david pecker who says that he made that payment intending to assist donald trump in his campaign for election, and donald trump was in the room. so there's no question that donald trump knew about all of this. he was a one-man show. he's always been a one-man show. he had a small family company with about 50 employees.
he knew precisely what was going on all the time. >> congressman, there's been two components to michael cohen's cooperation here. you have to hush money payments in the ami david pecker organization. you also have the connection to trump tower and moscow and russia. take a listen to michael cohen talking about moscow today. >> the special prosecutor say you did do everything to tell the truth about russia. is the president telling everything he knows? no. >> how does this end for donald trump? >> that gets into the whole investigation. i don't want to jeopardize their investigation now. >> what more do you think we are going learn about that russia connection to all of this. >> the russia connection gets
stronger and stronger by the day. i don't know if president trump ever thought he was going win, so the whole effort to try to move forward on the trump tower in moscow was his, you know, his winning so to speak because he was going get that prize that he has wanted for a long time. so he wanted that project to move forward during the campaign. doesn't surprise me at all. michael cohen i believe will have lied not just to the special counsel, but to the intelligence committee as well when all is said and done. >> let me pose a question to you that you yourself asked in the article that you wrote. did putin buy donald trump? i'm going give you a chance to answer that for our viewers tonight. >> i think he did. one of the elements of copromat, which is a russian word for getting something on somebody is sometimes you pay them so they're indebted to you.
that mansion in florida that luglov purchased from donald trump at the height of the recession, it have a $45 million increase in value. he never saw the property and yet made that kind of accelerates and extensive payment to him i thought was part of a deal that was concocted by putin. >> we'll see if the investigation turns any of those stones. thank you. maya, i'm going to ask you to stick around for us. bob mueller debunking the claims of mike flynn. plus, new revelations about how jared kushner replaced cohen as trump's link to the national enquirer. a secret witness trying to defy a subpoena with an entire court on lockdown. we'll talk to a reporter on
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>> what's going on with michael flynn. the fbi tweet said he didn't lie, but the mueller tweet said he did lie. they took a man who's a general, and a respected person and a nice man. they took a general that they said didn't lie and they convinced him he did lie and he made some kind of a deal. >> trump's claim coming after flynn's lawyer claiming they treated him unfairly because they didn't warn him it's illegal to lie to agents. mueller said this, nothing about flynn's interview was set up to make him lie. in fact he decided to lie weeks before the interview when the media started asking about it. he repeated the lies to top trump officials and when it came time for his fbi interview he knew in advance what they would ask him about. the fbi's deputy director told him the questions would be about his contacts with the russian ambassador. he agreed to do the interview
voluntarily and agents tried to give him a chance to correct his lies. when flynn said he didn't remember something, the agents knew he said it. they used the exact word he used in order to prompt a truthful response. he never corrected the record. if anyone knew better it was michael flynn. retired blunt general and 33-year veteran of the armed forces knows he should not lie to federal agents. with me now is frank montaya and malcolm nance, the author of the block "the not destroy democracy". frank, let me begin with you. does anyone within law enforcement experience know it's actually illegal to lie to the fbi? almost seems like you don't have
to have a law enforcement background to know you shouldn't lie to federal agents. >> it's a given in many instances. i did thousands of these interviews and i don't remember once having to remind somebody of that notion. there's a difference between this and a miranda warning which you do after someone's arrested. what's peculiar to me is while michael flynn had an easy rappaport with a loot of guys in the fbi itself, including me, i worked with him at o.d.i. and d.o.a. he indicate in the documents, in the interview, he knows why he's being interviewed and he probably knows the answers as well, andy being andy mccabe and yet he's still deceptive about
that and acknowledges in sworn testimony in district court he did lie to the fbi in that interview. >> malcolm i want to pose to you the same question this caveat. it read the deaf defendant was undoubtly aware in light of his many years working with the fbi that lying to the fbi carries serious consequences. do you buy any of the arguments that, hey, the fbi agents didn't warn him not to lie? >> no. it's completely and utterly and totally implausible. it's not just that everyone who works within that community, within the white house, within the defense intelligence network understands you don't lie to the fbi. we also know their a principle agency for counterintelligence. we conduct own force monitoring of foreign officers like ambassador kislyak in the united
states and then anyone who would be communicating with him would be part of the collection process from the fbi. he, knowing all of that, conducted a deception operation against the fbi when they walked into his office. he was well aware of what the facts were. they led him on using the actual wording he used in order to give him a break, and he still had a reason to lie. within the world of counterintelligence, this would be a red flag that this man has something to hide which exceeds his security clearance, his loyalty to the country, and the common sense that everyone knows never lie to a fbi officer. >> frank, to that point that malcolm just raised about all the red flags, why would michael flynn try to now, or through his lawyers, try to spin this in any other way that he's simply
lying? why try obfuscate saying the agents were disingenuine? >> it's a great point. he's not reneging on the fact he admitted to lying. it's about the reputation. make himself look better. mike flynn was a great warrior for this country, but at the same time it's hard to not believe that he was a pretty lousy politician. this is his way to salve some of the wound. i give him credit for manning up and standing up to the crime. but at the same time there's that tear on the reputation in what was otherwise a great 33 years of service to our country. >> what's the filing that undercuts the flynn argument due to president trump's argument that flynn was entrapped? >> this damages his argument he
should get no jail time. if i were the judge you would look -- it goes back on his belief that he is he remorseful. maybe it's his lawyers trying to be too cute by half. it's almost as if you're making an argument for pardon. that would make me feel -- if i were the judge -- >> that it's something suspicious. >> he's keeping the act up. despite the fact he was a great intelligence warrior, he was not just a politician. he may have been one step away from treason and he pulled back by cooperating but look at him now, he's going back on even what he cooperated with. >> malcolm, frank, thank you this evening. mystery mueller hearing today had the courtroom on
the feds. kushner bonded with him after he caught and killed negative stories about trump and admitted to working with concert with the trump campaign to cover up the alleged karen mcdougal affair she had with trump. trump was in the room during hush money payments with the women. kushner is a loyal son-in-law and played apivotal role in the trump administration. >> i want to thank jared for what's happening on prison reform. he's been leading it. it's something close to his heart. >> to have jared in the room with all his family and friends is a great pleasure. i'm so proud of him. i'm very proud of jared. jared's become more famous than me. >> joining me now the white house reporter for the daily
beast. he wrobroke the exclusive reporg on kushner's relationship with david pecker. let's talk about the relationship between kushner and david pecker. why has it become so important in all of this? >> well, because of all the legal news that happened earlier this week regarding a.m.i., david pecker and of course michael cohen and president trump. it's also been firmly established that for the period of time before donald trump entered the white house, in the heat of the 2016 campaign, michael cohen as an envoy of donald trump worked closely with a.m.i. to run a behind the scenes hush money organization that cohen and pecker say it was at its core about the trump campaign. trump and his lawyers
vociferously depute that, but that's to be expected when the transition rolled around and it became clear to pecker and his associates that michael cohen would not be landing a plumb job in the trump administration even though michael cohen was telling people close to him he might get something as senior as chief of staff in the white house -- that didn't happen for a multitude of reasons -- pecker went searching for someone who could be his new michael cohen, new point person and direct line to donald trump in the obviously offival office. he found that person in jared kushner whom pecker talked with on the phone numerous times since the dawn of the trump era in 2016. topics of conversation ranged from things as weighty as conversations with saudi arabia. a.m.i. and trump and jared
kushner have their own interests in cozying up to the regime. also topics of discussion include things much more petty and tabloid centric than that, including the dirt the national enquirer had on msnbc colleagues of yours -- joe scarborough and mika brzezinski. so when it came -- >> i was just going say, you brought up a lot of really good points. i want to get maya's perspective on this. what would prosecutors want to learn about the relationship between pecker and jared kushner? >> what they were talking about and why. so if you have a president who apparently corroborated evidence used his connection to a.m.i. to actually divert negative stories
about himself to win an election, you already know that he is absolutely willing to abuse short, so we would translate this as president as, what ways would he use his authority and relationship to a.m.i., to pecker, through jared kushner to protect his administration? and it's possible that there may have been various forms of abuse of power in doing that. what the actual crimes might be would depend on what the conversations are. but one question would be, are there other people you're paying off? what are you paying them off to cover up? >> where is all this going for jared kushner? has he become a central figure in all the loose thread investigations that are hanging around the organization, the white house, trump, the payments? >> i don't think we know about the trump organization per se.
i haven't heard of connections. but obviously as it relates to conspiracy to defraud the united states and in the context of russia, there are questions about how jared kushner has do with that. he was in the june meeting with manafort and don jr. you want the know what he knows and who he was connected to. there could be any number of things but we'll only know when it becomes public. now to breaking news on a mystery mueller hearing today and it is highly intriguing. mueller's team at the u.s. court of appeals for the d.c. circuit about a witness denying a grand jury subpoena. the court staff closed the entire courthouse floor. joining me now is a reporter for talking points memo who was at
the d.c. courthouse today when all this unfolded. walk us through. are we any closer to what happened in the courtroom? >> no, it was a craziy day. we have not received anything saying that was mueller linked. we have seen things that suggest this is linked to a mueller situation, be you the whole docket is under seal. we can only see when things are filed or not filed. what we did know is there was a hearing today and what myself and two other dozen reporters did was show up at the court, position ourselves right in front of the courtroom where the hearing was supposed to happen in hopes of seeing the attorneys, presumably mueller's attorneys and the other side's attorneys but what they did was
close down the courtroom, which was expected but the entire floor where it was. down to the stairwells to make sure reporters weren't able to see attorneys exit or enter. >> so very quickly, how do you know about these hearing? how did you know toer show up to the courtroom? how long was the hear something. >> so what we can see is basically what's known as a docket. we can see when things are being filed but we can't open those files. we can see when one side files a brief, when the other side replies. we can't see who the side are, we can see the briefs. on the same page we are seeing when judges are giving instructions on when to file documents and when they're going to be holding hearings. there's a couple of reasons we think this is mueller related. one, early on in the proceedings an appellate judge recused
himself. another reason is that on one of the days that a filing was due, a reporter was in the clerk's office and heard the attorney ask for the special counsel's filing in the case because they were going respond to it and later that day, a filing was filed in this case. >> absolutely incredible. if you hear of any more of these types of hearing, update us. >> thanks for having me. the trump pelosi showdown. she's asking for tax returns. new details on foreign money and ivanka trump's role in it. the head of the committee will be here next. i'm snow. and just like you, the further into winter we go, the heavier i get. and while your pants struggle to support the heavier you, your roof struggles to support the heavier me.
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inaugural committee. "the new york times" details who federal prosecutors think may have been involved in a crooked scheme to curry favor with the incoming trump administration. the feds looking at whether foreigners illegally funneled money to donald trump's committee and a pro-trump super pac. they used straw donors to disguise their donations. in the moment i'm going talk to the president of president obama's inaugural committee. whatever happened to the money trump's administration raised. previous campaign ran money as well, but nowhere near what the trump committee did. we may be starting to find out where the money went and came from. joining me now, steve kerrigan. he was the president and ceo of
barack obama's committee. gentleman, great to have both of you with us. i want to put up the graphic again. take a look at the stark difference. steve when you look at something like this, why was president trump double in your explanation what previous administrations were able to raise. this is really something unexplainable. >> it is. i was chief of staff in 2009. he raised more than what we did in both of president obama's administrations, which were the two largest in history. the opportunity to give to an inaugural is a unique one and particularly for a candidate like donald trump where, as it's been reported he set up a super pac in the summer of '16 because his campaign was wayning in money. he wasn't raising a lot of money from traditional republican donors. this is a chance for folks to come to him with an awful lot of
money, millions of dollars in fact, and say, look, i'm here. i support you in your presidency and inauguration. there was no need for $107 million. they had probably a third of the staff we had. a quarter of the events we had and president bush's inaugurals and they raised twice as much money. only sends up a red flag about why is the need for that much money. that's because people want to curry favor and buy an opportunity. that's why i have been calling it the inaugural slush fund for a year and a half. this is an opportunity for him to have used transparency as past presidents have to who the american people what his inaugural is all about and he has chose to, as he has every time, take the easy way out and show he has no transparency to the american people. >> steve, you talked about red flags. did you guys ever -- walk us
through the due diligence you did when someone wants to give the committee a big chunk of change. what's expected of you guys? did you ever turn away money? say, hey, we can't accept this for this event? >> absolutely. what's called vetting in the donor and politics business where you investigate the person to determine whether or not they meet your own standards that you as an inaugural committee set. we had very strict standards. even back in '09, you couldn't buy an inaugural ticket if you didn't meet the standards. you could do it threw ticket master, but we would get list and throw a quick vote in, turned away an awful lot of money. this is an opportunity for a presidency to set the pace of what a presidency is going to be out. president obama wanted it to be about serving the american people, getting a opportunity to
serve the each other. that's why we set our restrictions on money. we set a strong set of princele thes who we would take money from and yes, we returned a lot of money. >> seth, is this just simply miss mismanagement or do you think there's a spike? >> whether i do or not, clearly the southern district of the new york prosecutor is looking into this. two questions -- the money coming in to the committee and the then the money coming out. the money coming in, foreigners are not allowed to donate to these types of committees. if you have foreigners who are donating funds through americans, in other words straw donors to conceal the nature and sorts of those funds, that can be a campaign finance violation.
if that's used to curry favor and he knew that and was promising favors in return, you have the makings of a potential bribery case. then on the other hand the money coming off the committee, those funds -- we see $100 million plus. if those funds were used for noninauguration purposes to pay their mortgage or take trips, noninauguration related there's a fraud case. the donors were giving the money for the administration. >> how do federal investigators figure this out? >> well, like every other federal producisecution you loo bank records. you try flip them and see how the transactions were structured. there are building blocks. you start low, work your way up and try to find out if there's
criminal wrong doing. >> there's reports that e-mails from ivanka trump concerned ant if this was audited. thank you both very much. nancy pelosi is ready to across trump's red line. developing news on that front next. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. great news for anyone wh- uh uh - i'm the one who delivers the news around here. ♪ liberty mutual has just announced
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pelosi saying democrats will take the first steps. the panel will insist trump release them. >> our friend ari melber has been doing reporting on what to expect now that democrats seem sure of control in the house. >> i've spoken to a senior member who says tonight, breaking news, they do intend to request president trump's tax returns. >> that fight is coming and it's coming now from all sides. this new yorker headline today -- incoming intelligence chair adam schiff plans to obliterate trump's red line, vowing to probe his personal finances and get his bank records. all this coming as federal prosecutors eye trump's family business. all this after michael cohen
reveals what went on behind closed door. >> he's saying he didn't direct you to do anything wrong. is that true. >> i don't think anybody believes that. nothing at the trump organization was done unless it was run through mr. trump. >> joining me now, e.j. dion. let me get your reaction to the democrats who insist ongoing after trump's tax returns right out of the gate. >> i think it's the right thing do and i think it's important they begin by putting this in the right context which is this is not a fishing expedition. they are asking trump to live up to a norm that every president since the nixon years lived up to in putting out his tax returns. it's something that's expected because the american people have the right to know what conflicts
of interest does this person have? did this person pay their taxes properly? we ask cabinet officials to give all kind of information to congress and trump is saying, i don't have to give up anything. it's also true that there may be a lot to learn here about whether trump is in violation of the a moemoluments clause. i'm making assumption here, just saying what we could learn. we could learn things that might affect the russian probe and if trump is as rich as he says he is. >> but legally speaking how can they go about getting them beyond requesting it. if they request it they are not going to get it. is there anything they can do to compel him or agencies for the tax returns? >> they can subpoena the tax
returns. certainly they can assert that congress does have a right to see these things and cite all other times congress has gotten tax returns by request. but i suspect this will be fought out in court. one assumes robert mueller has seen some of these tax returns so we might see them any way, but again, i think it's important they keep underlying this principle that this is something not only congress but citizens and voters have a right to look at. >> how does trump push back? is there a legal defense for him to make, or is this too much of a public inquiry that it could be a critical piece of puzzle? >> he's using the excuse he's under audit, but he seems to have been audit forever. he could argue i suppose some kind of executive privilege and he may argue as you suggest some kind of privacy, but i'm not sure it's a public fight that
will do him much good. you can point back -- other republicans like george w. bush, well, they may not have been happy do it but they were willing to release their tax returns. i suspect he'll use any means at his disposeal too try to preven it. >> thank you so much. we'll be right back. share the love event, we've shown just how far love can go. (grandma vo) over one hundred national parks protected. (mom vo) more than fifty thousand animals rescued. (old man vo) nearly two million meals delivered. (mom vo) over eighteen hundred wishes granted. (vo) that's one hundred and forty million dollars donated to charity by subaru and its retailers over eleven years. (girl) thank you. (boy) thank you. (old man) thank you. (granddaughter) thank you. discover card. i justis this for real?match, yep. we match all the cash back new cardmembers earn at the end of their first year, automatically.
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ari's latest episode of mavericks with nba star chris redstar. that's it for me. you can catch me weekday they were so happy at first. sharing a romance over a cliff. but romance turned to danger. she fell from the edge. >> i would call it accidental death. >> narrator: but was it? >> he said, if anything happens to me, you'll know who did it. >> narrator: after 20 years a husband is on the precipice. >> did you kill your wife jody? >> i did not kill jody. >> narrator: what happened on the cliff's edge? good evening and welcome to "dateline."
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