Listen: President Trump, President And Michael Cohen discussed on All Things Considered
"I'm Mary, Louise, Kelley meltsa Chang. We begin this hour with news about special counsel, Robert Muller's 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 shed light on the crimes the government says Coen has committed and we also have another set of documents new documents from the special counsel about the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, so a lot of news to Wade through right now and to help us with the waiting. We are joined now by NPR national Justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Who is here with us in the studio. Hey, kerry. Hi there and White House correspondent hammer Keith who is joining us from the White House. Hey, tom. Hello. So Carrie, let's start with you. There were two new documents from the government describing what Michael Cohen did. What are the new details? We're learning tonight about his case Elsa. This is a lot strap in. Right right now. Prosecutors in New York say Michael Cowan deserves a substantial prison sentence they say he acted in coordination with and at the direction of individual one home. We know is the president in a campaign finance probe of payments. Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. I two women with whom Trump allegedly had personal relationships. The document also says Cohen consulted with Donald Trump about meetings in Moscow or meetings with Russian officials in Moscow part of a highly lucrative Trump Tower Moscow deal that never came to fruition. And that document also talks about Cohen getting approached by some unnamed Russian as far back as twenty fifteen to try to engage in some kind of political synergy. Now that was the synergy. Yeah. And we're gonna find out more about that. I think now that was what prosecutors in New York said we also got a filing on Michael Cohen this evening from the special counsel, Robert Muller. They say Cohen met with them seven times, provided you. Useful information on Russia matters that are core to their investigation. And they say that Michael Cohen was in regular contact with company executives Trump organization executives during the campaign. He also talked about his contacts with people tied to the White House in two thousand seventeen and twenty eighteen and then when he was asked questions about congress, and from congress about all of these issues, he circulated those responses before he sent them the big question is who saw those because we now know Michael Cohen is acknowledged those responses were false, and Tom, you know, the president has consistently defended himself casting doubt on Cohen's credibility. The government is basically saying, yeah is a liar. He has admitted to lying and the president has just tweeted about all these developments tonight. What did he say? It's a pretty short tweet. It says simply quote, totally clears the president. Thank you. Exclamation point. However, the White House has also weighed in with a statement from Sarah Sanders. She says, and I'll just read it to you. The government's filings and Mr. Cohen's case, tell us nothing of value. That wasn't already known Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied, and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr. Cohen is no hero. And those court filings do indicate that that Cohen was. Not fully cooperative. And and they say that he wasn't just acting out of Naveh Tae that or or you know, failty to President Trump. But then he was also doing in his own self interest carry absolutely these prosecutors say that Michael Cohen wanted people to think that he was acting out a blind loyalty to Donald Trump that but that he had skin in the game. He spent he stood to make a lot of money. Trump became the president in this project came to fruition in Moscow. And he also stood to have a lot of influence if Donald Trump became president which came to pass. Okay. We just received also another document right about Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, tell us about that document Carey, so we know that Paul Manafort met with the special counsel team twelve times. And this is new also did he actually testified before a grand jury twice? But the problem is authorities say he lied. He lied about a lot of things to them. He lied about contacts with a business associate of of his. Who special counsel? Prosecutors think has ties to Russian intelligence. He also lied about another Justice department investigation. We don't know what that investigation as and maybe most intriguing. He lied about his contract contact with administration officials. Remember Paul Manafort was charged last year. He pleaded guilty only in September of this year. He agreed to cooperate with authorities. But authorities now say that Manafort was in contact via text messages as late as may twenty eighteen with an administration official and that he himself was talking to an unnamed senior administration official through February. Remember, there have been reports fat manafort's lawyers were coordinating with or keeping in the loop lawyers for Donald Trump in the White House. The president has set a pardon is not off the table for Paul Manafort. The question is is that what they were discussing all this time. Do we have any detail about the content of these alleged communications between Manafort and members of the administration? Now a lot of. Things are still under seal or redacted in that case, the important thing as far as prosecutors say tonight is that they are able to prove that he lied because of emails text messages and other information evidence, they've mass, okay. Now, of course, President Trump was intimidating all of these documents getting filed today started pretty early this morning, right? Tam launching some preemptive strikes against the molar investigation. Can you just recap forest ham the flurry that we saw on Twitter earlier today? Yes. So my alarm didn't go off this morning. But my Twitter alarmed in eighteen when the first presidential tweet came, and then they just kept coming incoming incoming. He tweeted a total of seven times this morning about the Mueller investigation saying that Muller and his team that he's working with are totally conflicted. And and also talking about James Comey, the former FBI director and saying that if they're ultimately is a molar report that. Has filed that Trump's lawyers will file a rebuttal report? And he said they've already started, and it's already eighty seven pages long. Wow. Also, I just want to add really, yeah. Yeah. We also have a statement from Sarah Sanders regarding Manafort, and what she says is that the government's filing in manafort's case says absolutely nothing about the president. It says even less about collusion, and is devoted almost entirely to his lobbying related activities. So that is the White House position on on the Manafort filings, high well in the middle of this swirl of news, Trump did make some personnel announcements today, including for a nominee for attorney general William bar, tamp. Can you tell us a little bit about William bar? Yeah. So he is a former attorney general under George H W Bush. He is seen as as a sort of a Republican establishment lawyer, President Trump said that he didn't know him until this process began. But that he was his number one choice. All. Along and he is seen as someone who is an 'institutionalised by some. But others are saying, hey, look at his his record of public statements that he has said that President Trump was totally right to fire James Comey. And and also that he has a pretty expansive view of executive power. He's also seen as kind of criminal Justice hard liner. I understand, you know, there's interest now in the White House carry to get criminal Justice reform done how my bar affect those efforts. You think is too early to tell no as of last night when Bill bars name was getting floated I was hearing from a lot of sources of mine and the advocacy community people who've been working on these issues since the nineteen ninety four crime Bill and earlier, and they pointed out that Bill bar has taken a hard line on drugs going back twenty five or thirty years, and they expect him to be as tough if not tougher than Jeff Sessions. Their former attorney general has been on drugs. Issues and on sentencing, generally. So that said is there an argument that the nineties were just a different time that people are just much more pro law enforcement, then and maybe Bill bars of us have evolved over the decades, his use may have evolved. One other interesting factoid, Elsa is that his daughter currently works for the deputy attorney general Mary Daly, she's in charge of the Justice Department's opioid efforts. So it seems to run in the family. I this is something that's interested both of them for a long time. All right. That's NPR's. Carrie Johnson and hammer key. Thanks to both of you. You're welcome. My pleasure.."