Listen: President Trump, President And Michael Cohen discussed on All Things Considered
"This is all things considered from NPR news. I'm Mary Louise Kelley Chang, it has been a busy day for the special counsels Russia investigation this evening documents in the case of President Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen were filed in a New York federal court. The documents offer more information about the crimes the government says Cohen has committed. We also have new documents from the special counsel about the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort NPR. National justice. Correspondent Carrie Johnson. Is here in the studio to walk us through both these filings. Hey, Kerry, hey, I'll say, okay, let's start with Michael Cohen a couple documents here from the government today described in more detail about why Cohen is expecting to head to prison. Tell us what we're learning. There is a lot in these materials. I federal prosecutors in Manhattan say Michael Cohen actually deserves a substantial prison sentence. They say that he acted in coordination with and at the direction of individual one who happens to be the president in an ongoing campaign finance probe of payments to stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Those are two women who allegedly had personal relationships with Donald Trump and receive payments in the course of the campaign. Prosecutors in New York also say Michael Cohen consulted with Donald Trump about meetings and Moscow part of a highly lucrative Trump Tower Moscow deal that never came to fruition. Authorities also revealed Matt Cohen was approached as far back as twenty fifteen by an unnamed. Russian who was offering political synergy synergy. Now, we've got a second document on shortly thereafter from the special counsel. It is very intriguing on the special counsel says Cohen met with them seven times that he provided useful information on Russia manners that are core to their investigation. He got that information apparently through regular contact with company executives at the Trump organization during the campaign and that Michael Cohen also talk with a special counsel about his contacts with people tied to the White House in two thousand seventeen and twenty eighteen and that when he got questions from congress about Russia. He circulated his responses to a whole bunch of people before he sent them. He now says those responses were false. So the question is who got them and were they encouraging him to lying right now. The president has already responded in his favorite way Twitter. Of course, what has President Trump said about all of this President Trump has been out with a couple of lines on? Twitter. He said totally clears the president. Thank you. I've a White House. Sarah Sanders press secretary followed up with more detail later Sanders said the government's filings and Michael Cowan's case tell us nothing evalu- that wasn't already known. I'm Michael Cohen is repeatedly lied, and as the prosecution is pointed out in court Michael Cohen is no hero. Okay. We also received another document today. This one about Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, tell us what's in there. Also, this is the story of a relationship gone bad. Remember that Paul Manafort agreed to plead guilty in September and cooperate with the special counsel. It turns out he met with prosecutors twelve times he actually testified twice before the grand jury, but authorities now say Paul Manafort, lied and lied and lied again. He lied about his business associate who allegedly has ties to Russian intelligence. He lied about a wire transfer, and they say he also lied about another unspecified Justice department investigation that's ongoing and maybe most important, Paul Manafort. They say lied about his car. Contacts with administration officials that Paul Manafort himself was in touch with a senior administration official his latest February two thousand eighteen and then he authorized somebody else on his behalf to be in touch with other administration officials as of may twenty six twenty eighteen the question is what were they talking about? No details on the continent. No details. A lot still under seal on in this case. But remember Paul Manafort had been maybe expecting a presidential pardon. The question now is where they discussing that. President Trump recently told reporters a pardon was not off the table for Paul Manafort. So we're going to be looking for more information about that moving forward. Okay. So you don't give me the big picture here. Do we know where these investigations are headed next based on what's happened today? Well, this the ball is in the court of a couple of judges Michael Cohen is going to be sentenced in New York later this month. Authorities say he he's still working with a special counsel. And Paul Manafort won't be punished won't be sentenced until early twenty nineteen. But we may have a hearing coming up about how exactly he lied and may have violated the plea deal. It's important to note as a matter of fairness that Paul Manafort says he believes he told the truth and he believes he cooperated. So we may have a public hearing in court about whether or not he did all these lies that the special counsel says all right, lots more to come. That's NPR's Justice. Correspondent Carrie Johnson. Thanks so much carry my pleasure now, let's turn to Hawaii Senator maisy Hirono. She's a democrat and a member of the Senate Judiciary committee. Welcome good to talk to you. Also. What are the details? You found most striking in the filings today about Cohen and Manafort, the interesting thing about the Muller investigation with regard to coin is that they described how Cohen is assisting in a number of areas and references to various so disagreed Russia and related matters that involved to company executives and those company executives have to be Trump executives and references to various discussions that occurred after the election with persons connected to the White House. Was there anything in the documents? That gave you reason to believe that President Trump may have broken the law. I mean, how much do you think these documents implicate the president? I think there are enough. References muller. Cohen short memo that indicates probably obstruction of Justice in what way. Well, let's describes circumstance as preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries will in which he lied to congress. So who did he have these discussions with? I think it raises the possibility that he had these discussions with people in the White House. Now, the White House says the government's filings in Cohen's case, tell us nothing of value. If anything it just affirms that comes a liar. No, they consider the entire Mueller investigation. A witch hunt inspite spite of all the numerous indictments satisfied of the guilty pleas and his fight the reality of what's going on with the Muller investigation. And the president clearly continues to call this a witch hunt. And and he must be a living in an alternative universe. Well to be more specific. I mean, the White House said tonight that manafort's cases nothing about President Trump, even less about collusion. That Paul manafort's case is really about. Manafort's prior lobbying has nothing to do with Trump individually. Would you have any thoughts on that statement that is expectation from the Trump team that they deny everything? And this is why the Muller investigation has got to complete. This course because there's a lot going on. And if you read the southern district of New York. Some metal. There's a lot. I haven't even finished reading this multi is almost forty pages. I have read the the Muller some middle with regard to Cohen. And I just got the Muller metal. It's it's about supporting the Muller's breach determination with regard to Manafort, does this document doesn't even get into the specifics of what kind of life. In fact, this particular document is very heavily redacted. Let me turn to this committee that you sit on the judiciary committee Republican Lindsey Graham at South Carolina is going to be presiding over the committee next year. Do you do you see him, you know, given that he is such a supporter of President Trump? Now, do you do you see him exercising real oversight on the Senate Judiciary committee? Well, I hope so. But if we don't do it on the Senate side, it'll certainly happen on the house side. And when the House Democrats will be taking. And when the House Judiciary committee goes over some of the investigations, and that all becomes public. It makes it be tough. I would say for the Senate to just say, oh head-in-the-sand nothing. Nothing to see here. I think it puts a puts pressure on the Senate to respond in an proper way with regard to our oversight functions. Okay. I also wanna turn to President Trump's choice to become the next attorney general William bar. He someone who has publicly questioned the impartiality of members of Muller's team. He's also someone who's known to have Xpress Sweeping views of presidential power in the past. Are you worried that narrower or shut down the Mueller investigation? Tell me tell me about your car has spent the last few years really gaining the attention of President Trump by say that Hillary Clinton should be investigated. That's music to Trump's ears. And then to question the Mueller investigation, yet more music to the president's here and talking about. Expansive powers for the president. So bar has signaled to various positions to Trump that would pretty much gains the president's attention and support. I think that's why he's being nominated for the position. Do you expect the confirmation fight over bars nomination to be rough one? I don't know if it'll be rough, but I'll certainly have questions as to how independent he's going to be an attorney general when he's made all these kinds of comments and clearly what the president cares about is appointing people who will do his bidding who will not be independent because as far as the president is concerned. The Justice department exists for him to protect him and the loyalty aspect of flows to the president. He doesn't flow from the president or anybody else. So president cares about to retain a protecting himself and making money. Those are really clear Motors on the president's part for just about. Everything that he does. So I very much question bars nomination. And it doesn't matter that he happened to be the attorney general way back when that was then we are not living a normal times. We are living in a time when the president expects all of his nominees to do his fitting. And that is certainly troubling. That's democratic Senator maisy Geraldo of Hawaii. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Thank you.."