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tv   The Beat With Ari Melber  MSNBC  May 25, 2021 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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or they do what you have been reporting on to their viewers, they convene a grand jury because the da thinks based on this evidence, these witnesses and this evidence, they have evidence of a crime. who by, we don't know yet. i'm curious where you think this goes if donald trump, who obviously has had a strangle hold of some degree on the republican party lately now may be gearing up for a time where his business, if not himself, is in the eyes of a grand jury and bill barr is not here to helm him. >> so i am always brought back to something that a close friend and political ally of his told me when michael cohen was first sort of ensnared by his journey. he now can't lie, right? like he served his time, and the smears on him from the trump circle are just that. they're smears. michael cohen can't lie. he didn't lie. he can't lie. because he'd face more potential
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exposure criminally. the fact that donald trump's foreign trip was blown up by the day michael cohen testified before congress tells you how badly donald trump didn't want the inside of his businesses turned out. and this ally of donald trump said, you know what, the russia thing isn't going to bring him down. michael cohen is because michael cohen knows everything. now, who knows more than michael cohen? allen weisselberg. the fact that these two men are ensnared and in the spotlight tells us that donald trump is concerned. >> ari, it is your turn. i'll go upstairs and watch you. >> all right. we'll keep going. i want to welcome everyone to "the beat." i am ari melber. we begin with bombshell breaking news in the trump criminal probe. "the washington post" is reporting the manhattan da investigating donald trump's
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company has convened a grand jury for the first time to weigh possible charges. this grand jury would be expected to decide whether to indict any individuals at the trump organization that could include potentially considering whether to indict its founder and chief owner donald trump. other executives, as i was just discussing with nicole wallace, also face potential exposure. cy vance has an investigation that according to "the washington post" as well as according to any basic standard legal representation has reached an advance stage. advanced is how the post put it. we have experts standing by that will walk us through what it means when you get to this grand jury stage. let me tell you exactly what we know from the post and what nicole was covering on our msnbc special reporting tonight. this grand jury will meet three days a week for six months to weigh the potential evidence. that alone is significant because it's different and broader than some other new york grand juries would typically
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operate. obviously the question here is does this news change the criminal exposure facing former president donald trump? the post reporting all of this suggests the da, vance, believes he's found evidence of a crime. if not by trump, then by someone potentially close to him or by his company. i am joined now by andrew weissman, a former senior justice official, a prosecutor on bob mueller's team. and neal katyal and the district attorney and former federal prosecutor. thanks to all of you. this is news that's breaking. we're all absorbing it. daniel, i go to you first as a veteran of the office. walk us through what it means legally when the da convenes a grand jury like this regarding a probe like this. >> so i think, ari, as you
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eluded earlier, grand juries are sitting all the time. they have previously compelled evidence in their name. what's different from this, which is colloquially called a special kbrand jury, we used to call it an extra grand jury in the da's office is that now this grand jury, assuming the reporting is right, will spend an extended period hearing one or more cases. not just any old case. the usual grand juries sit for four weeks, and they hear any case that comes through the door. but this is now a more targeted thing. and that typically means that the da has a complicated case he wants to present for a potential indictment at some point during the term of the additional grand jury. >> and, dan, washington post reports their view, their interpretation based on their reporting and sourcing is that this means cy vance thinks at least a crime occurred at trump
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org. do you agree? >> yes, i think it's highly likely that the da's office think there are crimes to be charged here. against whom? obviously we'll have a discussion about that. >> andrew weissman is with us. andrew, let me read now from more of, again, these details in this brand-new post story, which is striking. they say investigators here at the new york da's office are scrutinizing trump's business practices, including whether the value of specific properties were manipulated in a way that defrauded banks and insurance company and if any tax benefits were gained illegally. what do you see here, andrew? >> well, it's important to keep this in context because that reporting is consistent with what was revealed by the new york attorney general's office this past summer when they were
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skirmishing with eric trump. this issue of tax fraud and bank fraud and insurance fraud is one that's been going on for some time. i think the big news is that they now have convened a grand jury, and that is certainly a prerickwy sit to bringing a charge. whether they get there or not is something we don't know. the fact they're sitting three days a week is unusual and it suggests the seriousness of purpose since that's not typical. and i also think you should be thinking about not being -- >> andrew, say more about -- say more about that. why would that be more intense? >> well, just think about an average citizen is not really thinking i can't wait to spend three days a week for the next six months investigating one specific set of crimes. you know, at the federal level, that would be highly unusual. you might have a long-term
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investigation, but you might sit one day a week or if it was particularly intense, two days a week. or, as dan pointed out, you might have a four-week period where you sit intensely but then you're done. but here to have it for an extended period of time at three days a week means that you are getting people who are going to be quite focussed for a concentrated period of time. and i would think that this is going to mean that if you are allen weisselberg, you know, you are feeling the pressure today, that this is really ratcheting up what's going on. >> andrew, this would seem, i'm curious of your view given the mueller history and then i will bring neal in, this is the worst news the trump organization has gotten since trump left office legally. >> yeah. i think that is -- i think
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that's fair because, again, you are not going to have an indictment until you have a grand jury. now, it doesn't mean just because you have a grand jury there will be an indictment. >> sure. >> but this is certainly, you know, not good news. and, remember, there is also the sign that the new york attorney general is continuing her investigation and the reports are civilly and criminally. so there is certainly two fronts that the trump organization now has to confront. >> neal, same question. many people in the united states understandably feel there has been a lot of stories and news about donald trump seeming to do something wrong or getting partially caught and getting away. while humans are allowed to feel fatigue, the justice system is not supposed to be that emotional. what would seem to be happening in the justice system is, unless there is a massive conspiracy that will be hard to pull off,
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it would seem the d a's office will convene a grand jury to pursue a crime or crimes at trump org. whether they go all the way up to the founder, the former president, we don't know from this reporting. but that would be a bad development for them. whether people are tired or not, i put the same question to you. is it the worst thing since he left office? >> yes, it is. and, so, i think the public has had a lot of fatigue about this, and they see trump get away with thing after thing. but those of us trained in the law basically have known, ari this day will come. who didn't know that who is trained in the law? trump was a lawless mob-like figure, and you saw it in your extraordinary segment yesterday where you interviewed the three horse people of the apocalypse for donald trump. and those three people said two important things. one, each knows donald trump and the trump children very well. number two, each of them is cooperating with prosecutors against donald trump. and the convening of a grand
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jury is very significant because it's a really unique investigative tool. it is not something you start unless you have serious evidence as a prosecutor. and andrew is exactly right. this panel is going to work three days a week. that has to make donald trump nervous. they're working a lot more longer hours than he ever did. and all is focussed on him. and the grand jury is a secret thing. so when people go in, like, you know, perhaps the people you had on your show yesterday, they don't go in with their lawyers. they go in by themselves. that's for an iortant reason because, you know, maybe their lawyers are paid for by the figure head of the criminal enterprise or something like that and telling them what to say. when that witness goes in, she or he tells her truth only to these people on the grand jury and the prosecutor. it is a powerful tooth for getting at the truth, and that's got to make donald trump very worried. >> yeah, neal. that's a great point because it goes to the fact that donald trump is legally naked at this point.
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he doesn't have the powers of the president. some of which do afford a different level of review. he can certainly use that delay his tax returns after getting to this probe. he doesn't have bill barr, who may have according to doj veterans who demanded his resignation. he doesn't have an attorney again ral using or abusing those expansive powers to buy him time to get him tricks of the trade to get the other story we were going to cover until this today to get him to basically de-fang on what they worked on in their fact finding. he also doesn't have, as you say, the armorments that many fancy rich people do, which is all the fancy lawyers. you can watch a movie or billions and see, oh, boy, if you have enough lawyers sometimes that can make a difference. as you say, not in the grand jury room because you are in there alone pressed on these questions in a very serious way. as for what you mentioned in reporting last night which nicole also mentioned, we try to
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follow the witnesses around here because we said this, andrew, back in your day with mueller and we say with it cy vance. if the investigators want to talk to these people, then we do, too. here is some of what they told us in that interview last night. >> what is the word or subject that investigators asked most about? >> follow the money. >> taxes. >> allen weisselberg. they're going to flip on each other like it's going out of style. >> neal? >> yeah. so i think, you know, all of that plus they also made the very simple point, which is this is like a classic prisoner's dilemma right now. even if all the different people want to be loyal to trump, they all are being told by prosecutors and they know that unless they come in and cooperate, someone else may flip against them. and donald trump is not exactly the kind of guy who inspires
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loyalty, so you can't sit there if you are one of these other people saying, oh, trump is not going to turn on me. of course they will and they know that ahead of time, so they're much more likely, even if they have royalty in their bones, to turn on donald trump. grand juries of course have the power to issue subpoenas on their own, which is another important point. they can ask all of these people were documents and other things and prosecutors now don't have to rely on, you know, rudy giuliani to tell them what they're looking for on live tv. they have the power themselves through the grand jury to get this material. >> we have more from that that i want to play for analysis. michael cohen is someone who figured into both probes. although, mueller ultimately handed him off to the federal prosecutors in new york for viewers keeping tract because donald trump has a lot of other legal problems. this is not sdny, the feds. this is the local prosecutors, which have maximum atonmy.
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it is the new york attorney general and the new york da. it is harvey dent for those using the batman lens, which can sometimes be helpful. given that you have dealt with these individuals on your side, i have to ask you: do you have any sense of deja vu and do you have any sense as to whether this time would somehow be different? >> well, i do think there is a reason to believe that this time might be different, and that is that if you look at neal talking about the classic prisoner's dilemma, that's not something that we really had because when trump was president he had the power to pardon. and, so, you could build a really strong case against an allen weisselberg and still the person wouldn't flip. look at paul manafort. look at roger stone. they could hold out for a pardon. that is no longer a power that donald trump has. and he does not have the power to fire the prosecutor. so we are in the usual situation of investigating somebody who
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has the power to pull the plug on the entire investigation, as well as our boss was somebody appointed by the president of the united states. all of that -- >> did that affect you guys? >> i'm sorry? >> did that affect you guys? >> yeah. well, certainly the power to pardon and i think the power to fire us also affected us. so i think both of those are powers that i think are really being important powers that are very unusual in any criminal case that dan, neal or i have ever been involved in. and now trump is just like any other person who is subject to a criminal investigation with no ability to control the prosecutors or to control the witnesses. >> and daniel, who can fire cy vance? >> well, theoretically the
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voters or in some cases, rare cases the governor, but that's just not going to happen, right? he's not running for re-election. his term ends december 31st. so there is going to be a new da on january 1st. that gives us every indication that he wants to make this decision in advance and six months from now when this grand jury expires, he will still be the da. so i do think that he is pushing for that decision. i will say that new york grand juries are more cumbersome than federal grand juries. neal and andrew are right they're very powerful. but they also generally can't -- can't receive hearsay evidence. they have to hear things, you know, directly from the mouths of witnesses, which in federal courts it was a huge advantage when i was a federal prosecutor to be able to put an agent on the stand and present a case that's pretty complex in two or three hours based on the investigation they did. in state court, we have to present the actual witness, so it is kind of a big deal. and they all get automatic immunity, which also creates
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some complications. so there are reasons why the state grand jury will sit three days a week. it is actually not that unusual. they are probably sitting a morning or an afternoon only would be my guess, but again we're still speculating here. >> and you are all making important points, which speak to why it may be a very bad night at mar-a-lago. daniel, you're picking up on something that andrew was walking us through earlier, which is that the doubling down, the tripling down on the normal grand jury schedule is something that shows an intensity and acceleration of the case. bad news for anyone at trump org. then, number two, you are reminding everyone, because i don't think everyone around the country is keeping track of tenure plans that this new york da is out, you are reminding everyone, at the end of the year and the six-month schedule -- walk me through this if there is more precision needed. this will bring you to november. the implication of what you are
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saying legally, anything can change, lord we know that from following cases, but you are saying legal schedule would be that this matter you would expect there to be action or if they close it out with no action, you expect to know that either way by roughly november with regard to whether crimes are charged at trump org, daniel. >> november or before. i think it all depends. as we were saying earlier, we don't know exactly who will be charged. right now clearly allen weisselberg is in the cross fires and there are lots of different levers and points of pressure with him. including his family, his kids. so we'll see what they're going to do. but, you know, within the trump organization, there are other executives. there is family members of donald trump. there is the companies themselves and there is donald trump. so this grand jury will be doing a lot of work. no doubt they will be using it in an investigative way, issuing subpoenas, compelling people who don't want to testify to testify. so this is really using the grand jury, i think, to the fullest extent of what it's
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meant to be. >> yeah. and it raises a lot of questions about weisselberg, which we will have more special coverage tonight because we're looking at this from the outside. we don't have all of the access that the three of you have had at various points in these kind of cases. but as outsiders we're tracking, boy, a lot going on around weisselberg. before i lose this panel of experts and i have a lot more people waiting in the wings, i want to go to each of you lightening round in a word or a sentence. number one, in summation, what changes today for trump org and who has the most to worry about? what changes? and who has the worst to worry about in a word or a sentence starting with andrew? >> weisselberg has the most to worry about, and what changes is he's taking a lot more exposure. >> neal? >> trump has the most to fear because he knows weisselberg has the most to fear and weisselberg
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will flip and that's very, very bad news for donald trump. weisselberg knows where the bodies are buried. >> daniel? >> what changes is that it's public, that the da is going for indictments for sure. we now know that. and i think donald trump at the end of the day has the most to worry about. even if he's not indicted, this is all bad news frp donald trump, but he's probably known about this for a while would be my guess. >> very interesting coming from those who have been on the other side of these tough prosecutorial decisions. a big news night. we're happy to begin with such big experts. thanks to each of you. we have our shortest break. just 30 seconds. when we come back, what exactly does the grand jury see? how did this trump criminal org investigation escalate so quickly and why is trump worried when we're back in 30 seconds. s. because we're the engineers who built the most reliable network in america.
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thousands of smarter towers, with the 5g coverage you need. broader spectrum for faster 5g speeds. next-generation servers with superior network reliability. because the more you do with 5g, the more your network matters. it's us...pushing us. it's verizon...vs verizon. and who wins? you. breaking news. the manhattan da has formally convened a grand jury to hear criminal evidence in this escalating trump organization probe. this is a major advancement in what has been a two-year investigation. it suggests da cy vance found evidence of a crime by someone who either works at the trump organization or someone who runs it. our special coverage continues. good evening to both of you.
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nick, i want to begin with something that a former veteran of that same new york da's office said just as we were ending that first segment tonight. he put it more bluntly than many lawyers are willing to. so i want to make sure everyone heard it because it is echoing in my ears. mr. alonzo is pretty careful. he said, this means indictments are coming. that's what he said. he said his view is on a case like this, this many years in the makes after they got the tax returns, he's saying the manhattan doesn't go to this level of this super sized grand jury unless indictments are coming. do you agree? >> not completely. i think there is a good chance that indictments are coming. but there is lots of reasons to do a grand jury at this point. one of which is to lock people in to whatever their testimony
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is, to put together the evidence so you have it in one place and you have it in a transcript to be able to bring people in who do not want to testify or cooperate and force them to cooperate because, as your other guest said, anybody who testifies in a new york grand jury automatically gets immunity. so there are lots of reasons to do this. this is exactly what i did in the nixon tax case. we brought people into the grand jury. we had no idea that we were going to indict. in fact, we couldn't at the end because nixon was pardoned. but we certainly did it in a way that was methodical, tried to get the right people in, talked to people who we thought knew something and forced them to testify. and i think that's what's going on here. so i don't think you can really jump to conclusions here. but it is a significant step. there is no question about that. >> professor murray, i don't know if you know the old legal saying or you teach it to your law students, but what daniel
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alonzo giveth, nick akerman may taketh away. >> i love that answer. >> but we had one -- go ahead. >> i was going to say, i love it as a law professor they're arguing both sides. a plus for both of them. >> exactly. and sometimes because, not to generalize about prosecutors, but sometimes they look at the case the way they have been trained. mr. alonzo went farther than i have ever heard him on air. we're not reporting that. it is not two sources confirming that. it is legal analysis, though, that he views this at this stage to be a higher bar. everything mr. akerman just said to us i think is obviously legally true. but i want to tease out and get your view on it. i want to tease out what mr. alonzo seemed to be suggesting. yes, of course there are many reasons for a grand jury. there are two separate steps. he's saying after going to the supreme court and winning the
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tax return case and getting that and teaming up with letitia james and having michael cohen in for ten interviews and putting the squeeze on weisselberg and getting this other material that this means vance has got something. where do you come down between two of your respective counselors here? >> again, i'm going to go right between them. i think all of that context is really important. there was a supreme court house to get that subpoenaed material before the grand jury. the fact that this special grand jury has been convened after the state attorney general announced it was shifting from a civil investigation to something with a criminal target i think suggests that something is coming down the pipe. but for those in the resistance inclined to spike the football right now, it might be a little early. there are lots of reasons to convene a grand jury. as you noted earlier, cy vance is approaching the end of his term as da. that might be the reason for getting a lot of this done.
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also, they may be tolling the statute of limitations. they are trying to get all of this evidence in before the grand jury before that happens. so lots of different reasons. but, again, this is a very significant development. >> let me play a little bit more of michael cohen brand-new from the reporting we were just doing because we have been circling the developments in this case where we had three of these key witnesses together. we heard from michael cohen specifically about why weisselberg is so clutch. >> alan was the gate keeper for every penny that came in and went out of the trump organization. but it wasn't just the trump organization. it was also donald's personal accounts. it was the kids' business accounts. it was the presidential inaugural committee. it was the campaign. any penny that had anything to do with donald trump went through allen weisselberg's desk. his exposure is not one that you
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can just hide because the beautiful thing about numbers is numbers don't lie. >> nick, we haven't been able to ascertain whether michael was certain tishsly trying to do a low key reference to men lie, women lie, numbers don't lie, a reference to jay-z. but the numbers that don't lie are now in the hands of the da. what does he do with what weisselberg knows about donald trump's personal and professional financial ways? >> well, i think what he's going to do is set up a situation where he could charge weisselberg. it is a crime to assist somebody in the creation of a false tax return. i mean, this is precisely how this worked when we did this in watergate with nixon and his taxes. we had three or four people. we had the two tax repairers who
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were both lawyers. we had the fellow that appraised nixon's papers that he alsoly claimed were a gift to the united states government. so you have a very small group. and the idea was to charge all of them and to flip them and to get them to testify. and we certainly got one of them, one of the lawyers that was in the white house who was a key witness in these cases. if we had done to trial with nixon, if he hadn't been pardoned, this individual would have been a star witness along with a number of other supporting witnesses we were able to gather through the grand jury. but the point made last night which is very important by all three of those people that you had on is they expect to see all of the players in this thing be charged with crimes. and i think that is very likely what's going to happen because they all played a role. this is not the type of crime that one person does on his own. you need a tax preparer.
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you need somebody to bring the numbers in. you need an appraiser who will give you a false number for property. so you have a lot of different people who will all be looking for their own interests. >> so, nick, let me draw you out on that because you came right into the heart of one of the theories from last night. also, i know you, nick. i have come to know you professionally. i know you are this close to talking about judge cirika; am i right? >> pretty close, but not completely yet. >> but you always say that judge cirika is the one who early on, and this could come up with weisselberg, was the one that put the pressure on it. they might have never turned. and that seems to be part of what you are saying about weisselberg, which brings me to part two of my question. i'm a lawyer, nick, so i'm allowed to do two parters. what do you think of the theory put forward last night by more
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than one witness, i say witness because that's more important than them being guests, that they believe in the end donald trump will try to do and might effectively do to weisselberg what he did to cohen? yeah, it looks bad. he'll say it was someone else's name. it was someone else who pulled the proverbial financial trigger and he'll skate away again. your response to all of the above and then the same question to the professor. >> i think he's definitely going to try and do that. that is the typical tact that in every tax case i have been involved in, the person that is the taxpayer points the finger at the accountant or at the lawyer and say they did it, trying to put off the culpability on somebody else, which, again, is why weisselberg is so important, because he does know where all the bodies are buried. he does know how these numbers made it to the tax return. he knows what conversations he
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had with donald trump and others in the trump organization that were involved in creating those returns. so in a way it is like your witnesses said last night, it's a packaged deal. these people are all in it together. it is a conspiracy to defraud the government and they're all going to be in a circular firing squad aiming at each other and it's going to be interesting to see how these indictments, if they come, fall out. >> professor? >> so i was going to say that weisselberg really is the thomas crumb well to nick's henry viii. he does know where all the bodies are buried. but he wound up with his head whacked from his shoulders. donald trump has proven to be incredibly adept at getting away from whatever liabilities surrounds him.
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and, you know, i think that has to be a particular worry. but perhaps that's also the real score with weisselberg. as nick says, he knows where all of the bodies are buried. he knows who else is involved in this, including perhaps other members of the trump family. so if there is any leverage to be brought to bear on the former president, perhaps it is with the prospect of ensnaring one of his family members, a child or one of his siblings, in this net as well, and that really is the key for weisselberg and how he's going to work with the prosecutors going forward. >> all fascinating points extending beyond some of the breaking news we had at the top. professor murray, counselor akerman, appreciate both of you. coming up, what happens if someone is actually charged in this criminal probe? we have an insider, a former trump executive joining us exclusively on this breaking news night. that's next. hold my pouch. ♪ trust us, us kids are ready
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former trump organization executive vice president. she worked with donald trump for over a decade and knows intimately how the organization runs on the inside. for legal perspective, we're joined by former u.s. attorney barbara. welcome both of you. with two barbaras, i will use last names religiously. barbara rez, does it surprise you that the grand jury has reconvened and does weisselberg, if your view, have anything to worry about? >> well, it surprised me because i think i said this before, trump has always been total teflon. so the fact they're closing in on him is wonderful and surprising for him. weisselberg, he must be shaking in his boots. you know, he's the key man there and he's got things at stake. he's got his kids and the prospect of going to jail, and it is a big deal for
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weisselberg. weisselberg is an ordinary guy. he's not like a cohen or anyone the big names like stone or any of those people. he's just an ordinary guy. he goes up and he changed his standing and everything, but i can't imagine he's just -- he's just beside himself. >> yeah. we have some images of him on the screen, the man you call an ordinary guy. i want to play some of the other witnesses in this case, including michael cohen who literally kick started these cases with his public fall-out with the former president on his testimony as well as other witnesses last night. >> ala himself admitted to me that his taxes and pay stubs he said i will never know those. i don't know. he was the guarantor on my apartment, my lease when i was getting divorced. and he said, oh, no, i can't show my taxes. i can't show my pay stubs.
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and i thought why not? basically he was saying they're illegal and i'm not releasing them. it was during the cohen sdny investigation. pretty telling. >> this family is going to pretend that it all had to do with alan and that alan was in charge of everything, alan was responsible. >> they will flip on each other like it's going out of style. >> barbara rez, do you think weisselberg understands that could happen? will he be ready for that? >> of course. if he doesn't understand by this point, it's a problem. you know, he's seen trump throw everything he could find under the bus. does he have a problem with it? well, probably it would hurt him but it would be foolish to think that wasn't going to happen. everyone else is going to do that. but weisselberg, for one thing, he's not the kind of guy that would be the only one that would know. i don't know that there is anyone like that, but it is
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certainly not weisselberg. weisselberg is one of the total sycophants that doesn't breathe or inhale or exhale without trump's permission or knowledge. so i think that that will be interesting in trying to lay it on weisselberg and how he responds. and i think it will be effective. i think weisselberg -- >> barbara -- go ahead. >> no. just i think that weisselberg will be able to convince them that trump was part of it and that trump had complete guilty knowledge, as it were. >> yeah. and that brings us to barbara mcquaid. if weisselberg has evidence of that, he certainly would have a somewhat receptive audience in the grand jury room or from these prosecutors as long as it's factual, as long as he could support it that he wasn't out going completely rogue to make someone else money. but the things he would have done for the client, for the boss. how would that work, barbara? >> well, someone like allen
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weisselberg could be a very valuable witness to prosecutors because of his position as chief financial officer. you know, in a paper case you quoted those music lines in the air, the beauty of documents is they don't lie. so the documents themselves can be the best evidence. you don't really need somebody to be the eye witness that tells you what happened. you can document that. but it can be very useful in a case like this to have someone like an allen weisselberg to explain why they were writing one number for insurance companies, for example, and a different number for the irs. and, so, there can be a lot of value for a witness like that. i imagine that he is loyal to donald trump that it would take a lot more him to flip but sometimes when someone is staring at criminal charges against themselves and the likelihood of going to prison, then the idea of cooperating becomes a lot more attractive. we saw it with michael cohen especially if allen weisselberg
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sees some of his family members may also be exposed to criminal charges. that could be the lever that convinces him to cooperate. >> barbara, your views of what it means to have this grand jury of new yorkers, of donald trump's peers. he famously relocated to florida, but he's been in new york a long time. he's been the president. he's well known and polarizing. what does it mean under the requirements of justice to get that grand jury to look only at the evidence, although it is a very different structure than a traditional jury, but to get it to look at the evidence and not be swayed one way or the other by any potential political views? >> i think it's a very significant step in the investigation. we have known for a long time that cy vance has been gathering documents to try to see whether he believed there were any criminal offenses that were committed. but to take this step of convening the grand jury means he believes there is some factual predication to believe
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there is a crime. if the documents led to the conclusion that there was nothing to see there, there would be no need to take this step. but this is the next step now of bringing in witnesses to stef, as you heard dan talk about earlier in new york under -- unlike in federal court, hearsay is not permitted before the grand jury, so you would call the firsthand witnesses who observe these things to come in and testify about what they saw, to show them the documents. but there is also the purpose of locking certain people in to their stories. so if you want someone like an allen weisselberg to cooperate, it is very important that you put him in front of the grand jury and get him to testify under oath so he doesn't wiggle out of it later and change his tune. it means this is a significant step in advancing that process. >> right. but i'm wondering specifically your view, and i guess i will spell it out slightly more precisely, what if you have a couple grand jurors that say i
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love my former president and i don't believe his company could do any wrong. >> you only need a majority of the grand jurors to get an indictment, a finding of probable cause, so it is a little different from the standard in a court where you need a unanimous jury. so if there are a couple of people who are outliers who have strong views about this politically, they can't sway the entire grand jury. and, so, if the evidence is there, they are instructed to look at the evidence, to not consider anything like political factors to look at it. of course we all have all of the implicit biases we bring with us to every decision. but unlike a trial jury, you can't have one or two outliers. >> yeah. that's a great point to remind everyone because it is similar wording and everything else, that whatever issues might eventually come with that, the idea that 1 out of 12 in a very polarized environment might become relevant, but it wouldn't be hanging on one person. thanks to both of you. we will be back with something
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we are back with the breaking news the trump org probe has hit a new phase, a more serious one, a grand jury. a power that basically only a grand jury in concert with the da exercise is the power to indict. the manhattan da is looking at whether people manipulated properties for trump org or the real estate. i want to show you what eric trump was talking about in 2014 about one of the properties that was under investigation. >> this place is really special to myself, my brother, my family, the whole family. it is a special place for me and one i will always remember and one that i will always be very
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close to. >> how they always remember it and whether they're telling the truth is now under the bright lights of a grand jury. i'm joined by a justice correspondent and legal writer for "the nation" magazine. thanks for coming back, sir. >> hi, ari. how are you? >> i'm well. this is a big story. we had a lot of experts on. for those watching and want to make sure we have been keeping track or joining us late in the hour. i just want to read a little more from it to you and our viewers because we have gone through it piecemeal. one of the points i wanted to highlight, the recent step of seating a long-term -- i didn't know you had -- i didn't know you brought props. >> i want you to read, read. please tell me more. >> now you may be the least serious legal analyst we've had tonight. but "the washington post" says
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vance investigation is regressed to the point that prosecutors will bring them evidence and they would be unlikely to take that step without evidence to show there was probable cause to believe someone committed a crime. the post notes something we have discussed. but that's worth really understanding when you look at how many witnesses are witnesses are key here. they note that two state level investigations put trump org under this legal microscope and both began with the same man, michael cohen who turned on trump after pleading guilty. they note cohen has been interviewed extensively by vance's team to help with the trump side of the case. i say all that because in my role as a journalist here, i can't way whether this focuses only on weisselberg or donald trump or other people. donald trump could be the
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beneficiary of a crime and never charged with one. what comes through in the washington post reporting is the idea that more so than any other prior case, this one does, in its witnesses and evidence try to grow closer to donald trump. >> ari, michael cohen has laid out the entire scheme for us for years now. the alleged scheme is he pumps up the valuation of his assets when it's time for him to get a loan from the only banks that will still loan him money and he down plays his valuations on his assets when it's time for him to pay taxes. that clip you showed from eric trump, literally plays that scheme. that's a golf course compound. michael cohen laid this out in front of congress. he's given testimony wards this end. this is not a complicated charge. this is a simple tax evasion
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charge. the difference here and i heard a lot of your experts talk as if trump stay one step ahead of the law. no, we never tried. you mayed a clip from eric trump and cy vance been on the job and done his job in 2013, 2014 and 2012 and if people had done there job in 2008 and all those years, we might never had president trump. the reason why trump has gotten away with it so far is the long arm of the law has put its foot up into the organization and seen what's really been going on and now they finally are. that's the popcorn. that's what's happening today. that's what's happening in front of the grand jury.
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we're going get real attempt by law enforcement to bring this man to justice. >> take a brief listen to what you just alluded to. the evidence put forward in public by michael cohen. >> in the office with me was allen weisselberg. he made the decision. always allen weisselberg on the check. >> the grand jury runs until november. what do you think what will happen to weisselberg between now and then? >> one of the only reasons that trump is not in jail already is he's been blessed in his life to find weak minded sycophants who are willing to take responsibility for his actions. we saw that in the manafort probe. we saw that roger stone. we saw that with michael.
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always seems to find people around him who are willing to take responsibility. michael cohen is the only person who, let's not forget. michael cohen is initially a lying little liar. he only later came to see the light. trump has been lucky in this aspect that people have lied for him and certainly lied for him in first instance. will weisselberg be in there. that's what we don't know yet. >> i'm only jumping in because i have a break before joy. you laid it out for people to get your perspective including an indictment of some of the former officials in new york state. your view of who may or may not have been vigorous on the job. all interesting. my special thanks opinion when we return, marking one year since george floyd's murder, when we come back. e george floy, when we come back.
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we have been covering breaking news and another major and important thing has been happening across the nation. millions of americans marking one year since the murder of george floyd. i want you to know that tomorrow on the beat we have a special report we have been working on documenting what has changed and what has not on civil rights and policing in this past year. if you're available, i hope you will join us tomorrow for that. tonight on the formal anniversary evening, we did want to leave you with this. some personal memories of the human being george floyd from some of the people who knew him best. >> he would say let me kiss mama before i come over there. >> this kind person to come up to me and say can i pray with you. i felt alone in this lobby. >> he was a person that everybody loved around the
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community. he just knew how the make people feel better. >> look up at what you did, big brother. you changed the world. >> tonight we take a moment to hear those voices who have the last word and as mentioned we have a fuller civil rights report digging into there on the anniversary tomorrow. on this big news night, i'm going to hand it off to the reid out with joy reid. i cannot wait to see the covers that comes barrelling toward you. >> thank you for ending your show that way. we had an entire plan to talk about a lot of these george floyd issues tonight but as you know better than i do, prosecutors had their own timeline and they don't care about ours. it's in way comforting that they don't pay attention to news cycle. prosecutors just do what they do. >> they do it on their own schedule. the information goes where it goes. i can't way to see what you do with it.
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