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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Cohen Pleads Guilty, Implicates President Trump; Manafort Found Guilty on 8 Counts. Aired on 9p ET
Aired August 21, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Of all the days we have seen, we have not seen a day quite like this. The president's former attorney and long time fixer stood up in court and said he broke the law. He broke the law to make money for himself and he said he broke the law to help get President Trump elected.
Most significantly of all, he said he broke the law in what was coordination and, quote, at the direction, end quote, of Donald Trump. The crimes he admitted committing are felonies and it's hard to overstate the significance of that, of what Cohen is claiming. The man who once said he would take a bullet for Donald Trump today in federal court was essentially calling his old boss and client, now the president of the United States a crook.
Elsewhere in another federal courtroom, the jury convicted Paul Manafort of eight felony tax and bank fraud charges. Two court rooms, two former Trump associates, 16 felony counts between them, all in the space of a few hours today. That now makes in total five former Trump associates and advisers, even one former White House adviser now either convicted of or pleading guilty to federal crimes.
We begin with Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts, all of them felonies including a pair of campaign finance violations. One involved a payment to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels, the other stemming from the arrangement with the "National Enquirer's" parent company to silence former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both, Cohen told the judge, were done as I said, quote, in coordination and at the direction of what he said was a candidate for federal office -- meaning Donald Trump.
Today, on his way to a rally in West Virginia, the president had nothing to say about Michael Cohen, only that the news was sad. He also had nothing to say about being implicated in either payoff. Wasn't so long ago he was denying at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. No. What else?
REPORTER: Then why -- why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to her allegation? TRUMP: Well, you have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney,
and you have to ask Michael Cohen.
REPORTER: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right, so that was a lie. In fact, back in May, his TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, revealed that was untrue, saying he did reimburse Cohen for the Daniels payoff, and just a few weeks, Michael Cohen revealed the recording that he made that shows Mr. Trump was also involved in the Karen McDougal arrangement.
The David you're going to hear is likely David Picker of the "National Enquirer's" parent company AMI. Allen Weisselberg is the Trump Organization's chief financial officer.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David, you know, so that -- I mean, I'm going to do that right away. I have come up -- I have spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with funding. Yes. And it's all the stuff, all the stuff. Because you never know where that company, what he's going to be.
TRUMP: If he gets hit by a truck.
COHEN: Correct, so I'm all over that. I spoke to Allen about it. When it comes time for the financing, which will be --
TRUMP: What financing?
COHEN: We'll have to pay.
TRUMP: Pay with cash?
COHEN: No, no. I got -- no, no, no.
Hey, Don, how are you?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: When the recording first hit, many observers remarked it kind of sounded like a pair of crooks conspiring. Today in court, Michael Cohen told the judge under oath that's basically just what it was.
If more on the Cohen plea deal, I want to go to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz who's still reading through the details and the extraordinary charging documents.
So, there are references to President Trump all over this document, correct? SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: No, there are, and
quite honestly, Anderson, I think all of us are surprised by the way in which prosecutors here outline this sort of surprise of where prosecutors have indicated there was this coordination between the president and Michael Cohen.
Just think about this. On the first page of this document, they go ahead and refer to the president. They call him individual one, who had become the president of the United States. The documents then go on to talk about how Michael Cohen made these payments to try and influence the 2016 election.
Look, I think we all had expected that there were going to be tax charges and perhaps bank fraud charges and other things here. But I think when you look at the court documents, and as they relate to the 2016 campaign, it certainly is far worse than any of us anticipated. And it seems certainly worse than what the president had anticipated here, because he is really all over these documents and prosecutors making a point that he did this, that Michael Cohen went ahead and did this on behalf of the president, coordinated with the president. Certainly very troublesome for the president here.
COOPER: Right. I mean, the fact is if President Trump were president right now, he could be indicted for these campaign finance violations, couldn't he?
[20:05:01] PROKUPECZ: Absolutely, Anderson. When you look at the way the prosecutors have described it, when you look at the way Michael Cohen described it in court, you know, these documents, it's criminal information, so it essentially lays everything out.
But, you know, if this was an indictment and Trump, Donald Trump was not the president, we could be looking at an indictment against the president. We could also, you know, if this was an indictment, be look at this as the president being an unindicted co-conspirator. Just think of that, and certainly, the ramifications of that. It's really serious here. We'll see what happens from here.
The other thing in these documents that the prosecutors have talked about was that Michael Cohen, and we don't know who these people are, was working with other people on the campaign as well, on some of this influence. And that certainly indicates this investigation perhaps is still ongoing and may not be over.
COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much.
We're going to have more on this throughout the hour. There's reaction tonight at the White House. CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now with that.
So, I mean, the president spoke to reporters when he came off the plane going to his campaign rally, didn't really speak about Michael Cohen. Has the president had anything to say since then about Cohen's plea deal?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Anderson, not a word from the president on all of this, even though, right now as we speak, he's on stage in West Virginia speaking in front of a crowd of very friendly audience, a very friendly audience, the president's biggest supporters in the audience tonight. But so far, he has not brought up Michael Cohen once.
Of course, we know that the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, did respond to the Cohen news today, saying in a statement that those charges from the government included no allegations of any wrongdoing on behalf of the president. Now, while that's right that the government did not say that, he did not mention the fact that the president's longtime attorney walked into a New York courtroom today and implicated the president in a crime.
Now, Anderson, we know from what our sources are told us for months now that the president has long feared that the Cohen investigation could be much more damaging to him than the special counsel's investigation could be. And he's long been enraged by all of the developments with Michael Cohen, including the fact that he recorded a conversation they had about paying women.
So, it's very likely that we will hear from the president on this at some point, once he watches all of the cable news coverage. But, Anderson, the bottom line here is this is someone who for so long has been in charge of fixing the president's problems, and tonight, he became one of the president's biggest problems.
COOPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.
I want to dig deeper now. We're joined by two CNN legal analysts, former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin, and Preet Bharara, who served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York before being fired by the president.
Jeff, let's start with you. I know you think it's virtually impossible to overstate what Michael Cohen said in court today. Just talk about why you think it's such a big deal.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, because this is the first time since Watergate and perhaps even before Watergate that a federal criminal guilty plea has taken place. And the guilty person has said I committed this crime with and for the president of the United States.
If this were any other person, given the evidence that was presented in court today, it seems to me a virtual certainty that Donald Trump would have been indicted and charged, too, because remember, who benefitted from this campaign finance violation? It wasn't Michael Cohen. The beneficiary was, according to Michael Cohen, the person who directed and then helped cover up this illegal campaign contribution.
This brings this criminal case to the door of the Oval Office like nothing we have seen before in this investigation.
COOPER: But, Jeff, obviously, you know, sitting president, according to precedent, not actually law, but can't be indicted. When the president leaves office, is this something charges could be pursued against him for?
TOOBIN: Well, it could, I think. I don't think the statute of limitations will have run. You know, that could be a long way off. There are a lot of things that may change in the interim, but the Justice Department policy, and as you point out, it's a policy, not a law -- it's not part of the Constitution -- says no criminal charges against a president while he is president.
This issue may arise when the president leaves office, but all of that, I think, is down the road.
COOPER: Preet, do you agree if Donald Trump were not the president, if he lost the election, given what Michael Cohen is claiming and swore under oath today that he himself did under the direction of Donald Trump, that Donald Trump would be indicted or would be an unindicted co-conspirator?
PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I think he would be in grave jeopardy. I think there would be a likelihood of that. But I'm not prepared to go as far as Jeff, I think it's an enormously significant thing.
I think it's correct to say we haven't seen something like this, the likes of this, like the president likes to say, the likes of this we have never seen.
[20:10:07] Because we don't know how corroborated Michael Cohen is on the particular allegation that he made in court, that this was done at the direction and in coordination with his boss, the president.
COOPER: When you say we don't know how corroborated, we don't know what --
BHARARA: We don't know o if there are tapes or if there's e-mails. The interesting thing is, you know, I tend to credit Michael Cohen on this allegation, but the president's lawyers are right, that this allegation of this being done at the direction of the president of Donald Trump is not in the documentation.
COOPER: It's not in the charges --
BHARARA: It's not in the criminal information. It's not in the plea agreement. It's not even necessarily a requirement to form the factual basis for Michael Cohen taking the plea. Now, you go into court, and you have to give a factual basis for why you're guilty.
So, one could argue, I don't think this is right, and I'm sure Giuliani and others have been arguing this. That it was a gratuitous slap by someone who has been left behind and now has an ax to grind with the president, to throw this in in open court under oath. It still is the case, he said it.
COOPER: Would prosecutors have accepted this agreement if they didn't believe Michael Cohen?
BHARARA: I think if prosecutors thought he was lying about that aspect of why he did what he did, I think they would have a problem accepting his plea agreement. They would have to say something in court.
So, I think it's enormously significant. It's not clear to me, though, not knowing what other evidence there is to back up Michael Cohen, who is, by the way, a criminal and a liar and now a convicted one, you need something else to back that up.
COOPER: You pointed out that this president -- go ahead, Jeff.
TOOBIN: Well, if I could just add, Preet is exactly right that this allegation by Cohen is not in the charging documents. But just if we step back and ask ourselves, OK, Michael Cohen has pled guilty to an unlawful campaign contribution in terms of paying these two women. Why would he pay that without talking to Donald Trump? It is never made any sense that Michael Cohen did this on his own.
COOPER: Well --
TOOBIN: First of all, where did he get the money? Second of all, who benefitted?
COOPER: That argument has never made sense. It's been made by all the surrogates who came forward after Stormy Daniels spoke. David Schwartz was on the program, an attorney for Michael Cohen in another matter, and other friends of Michael Cohen, all of whom said the president didn't know anything about this. Michael Cohen did this out of the goodness of his heart because that's the kind of guy he is. He took out a home equity loan, didn't seek repayment.
None of that is true. Either they were lied to or they were on television lying as well.
BHARARA: I'm not saying it's not a good case against the president based on the fact that Michael Cohen is prepared to say it under oath, based on his admission against interest for himself. Common sense, as Jeff points out, you know, the benefit of this is for the president. It doesn't make sense for a lawyer in good standing to have done these actions without the permission and the direction of the president.
BHARARA: So, you could make a case. I'm just saying I don't know how much direct hard evidence there is to corroborate --
COOPER: Although there is -- not regarding Stormy Daniels. There's audiotape regarding the Karen McDougal situation in which Donald Trump and Michael Cohen, I don't know if conspiring is the right word, but they certainly seem to be talking about and discussing the details of buying the rights to her story from AMI.
Why they would be -- not like Trump magazine actually exists that they were buying the rights so they could publish it? They were wanting to hold on to the rights so if the head of AMI got hit by a truck in the immortal words of then candidate Donald Trump, they would be safe. Jeff, you said he could still get immunity from Mueller or immunity
from Congress if Democrats win and decide to pursue impeachment charges. In both scenarios, he would be compelled to testify, right?
TOOBIN: Right. And it's not necessarily -- it doesn't even require an impeachment investigation. Remember, Congress has very broad jurisdiction to investigate whatever they want. I mean, they could be investigating campaign finance violations.
Congress has the power to give immunity to people that they want, who are citing their Fifth Amendment rights. Congress generally refrains from doing so if it's going to interfere with a criminal investigation.
But here, that criminal investigation is over. There's no risk of a case against Michael Cohen because he's already pleaded guilty. So, if Jerry Nadler, who was the Democrat who would be chairman of the judiciary committee, says we want to investigate this, and if his colleagues vote to give Cohen immunity, he has to testify before Congress. And if he doesn't, he goes to jail for contempt.
Same principle applies if Robert Mueller wants to give him immunity, if Robert Mueller says I want to hear what Cohen has to say, I'm not worried about jeopardizing the Southern District's investigation because it's over, he can give him immunity and force Cohen to testify before Mueller's grand jury.
[20:15:06] So I expect we will hear from Michael Cohen one way or another in one or more forms before too long.
COOPER: Preet, do you agree with that?
BHARARA: I do. Overall, given the events of today, the likelihood of impeachment, I'm not saying it's high necessarily, but it certainly went up.
COOPER: Because of what Michael Cohen --
BHARARA: Yes, because I think more people -- I mean, I saw people who were on the right, they're maybe never Trumpers who were saying themselves this is a bridge too far. You have something that didn't come directly out of the Mueller investigation, out of my former office which I'm very proud of today. From a person who is associated with the president, who has some credibility problems but also you have reasons to believe him. About something that's tangible and real, in which the person who is alleging the thing is not just charged but pled guilty to it.
So there is added credibility. When someone says I did this crime, this is not a witch hunt against me. And not only did I do the crime, I did it with this other person, at the direction of this other person, all of common sense and common sense reasoning tells you makes total sense.
Like that's the normal way it would occur. That someone says, I can't be hurt in the election. And all the evidence is that this was related to the election. And then a guy pleads guilty to it and says this was my co-conspirator, and it makes sense it would be because that's the person who benefitted, that's a much more concrete, tangible thing, for people who care about these things to pursue.
COOPER: You then charge according to these documents with false consulting fees, essentially, to his corporation to then --
BHARARA: They were all scumbags in various ways, and cheating on each other, and you have as you said the lies. You know, there's a back and forth story, whether you're talking about the Veselnitskaya meeting at Trump Tower which is related to the Russia investigation or you're talking about the payments to the two women, Donald Trump's story keeps changing about it. At any trial that would occur in the House or somewhere else or in the Senate or somewhere else, you explain to the people who are the deciders of fact, if there was nothing to hide here and you weren't involved, why do you keep lying about it?
COOPER: This is as swampy as it gets.
BHARARA: Yes, it is.
COOPER: Preet Bharara, thanks very much.
Jeff is going to stay with us because I want to explore more of the political angles Preet was just talking about.
Joining us is Jen Psaki, and former Senator Rick Santorum as well.
Senator Santorum, is there any scenario where this isn't a big problem for the president, whether it's political or, you know -- well, political, let's say?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, you focused, I think rightfully so, on the Cohen plea bargain. I don't think the Manafort guilty plea -- guilty conviction is problematic for the president. But Michael Cohen's admission or pleading guilty to, quote, cooperating with the president in violating campaign finance laws, that's a serious problem for the president. Period.
COOPER: Jen, I mean, of all the things that have gone on over the last year and a half, in your opinion, is this the biggest shoe to drop so far?
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think if there was a movie script about what happened today and Cohen's statements in court and the Manafort conviction, you wouldn't believe it.
COOPER: This is like one of those movie montages where several things happen at once and you're like it's getting to the end of the movie because it's a montage.
PSAKI: Right, right, and you're thinking this isn't realistic. There's no way this could happen in real life. And that just happened in an hour this afternoon.
So, I do think it should be a game changer politically. It won't be right now because Republicans are scared of Trump's base, and unsettling them. Democrats are probably not scared but they don't want to energize Trump's base, and we're two months from an election.
But this is definitely a game changer in terms of the politics of this and being accused of committing a federal crime to win an election, which is what Michael Cohen accused the president of, is a serious difference from what we have seen, where we were just even a couple days ago.
COOPER: I want to pick this up after the break. Want to get a quick break in.
Also tonight, the other big case today, the conviction of Paul Manafort, the other guy the president suggests he never knew, also known as the man who ran his campaign. That and more ahead on the program.
[20:21:23] COOPER: Well, what a difference a day makes. Just yesterday on Fox, Rudy Giuliani was saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: If he gets indicted for something that has nothing to do with the president, I feel sorry for Michael, although I don't know how sorry I feel for him because he was tape recording the world and deceiving him, including his client.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was yesterday. This is today, and today, Michael Cohen's client, now his ex-client is a possible alleged co- conspirator.
Back with Jeff Toobin, Jen Psaki and Senator Rick Santorum.
Jeff, just before the break, Jen was saying this could eventually be a breaking point for the president's supporters in Congress. Do you agree with that?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, we have been spending two years now saying this is it. This is the straw that breaks the camel's back, whether it's saying that Donald Trump and --
COOPER: We're having a connection problem with Jeff.
Senator Santorum, do you --
SANTORUM: I'll take a shot at that. COOPER: Right, go ahead. Do you see any appetite certainly on the
Republican side for addressing this?
SANTORUM: Well, I mean, look, there are three big stories today. Two that we're talking about, Manafort and Cohen guilty pleas and convictions.
But the third story is this horrific story out of Iowa, this young girl being killed by an illegal immigrant. And to most Americans, and certainly to the Trump base, the issue of Donald Trump standing up and actually trying to do something about these types of situations is much more personal to them than a potential campaign violation of a smarmy attorney with a sort of not particularly attractive whole situation that, you know, with a porn star.
Those things have already sort of been discounted in the eyes of the American public. And these other things that are much more real to people, I think, are going to be more persuasive.
COOPER: You don't think, just the moral character -- I know if we're talking about the Trump base, they're obviously various forms of supporters of the president, but we're talking about a man who has repeatedly lied, lied to the American people, whose surrogates have repeatedly lied about this or been lied to by him, and who has surrounded himself with people who are now convicted crooks and also self-professed crooks.
And some of whom are now -- at least one, his former lawyer, who is now pointing the finger at his former client, saying he was a crook, too. I know the base may not care, but just fair-minded people, don't you think you're selling them short to say they don't care about that?
SANTORUM: I'm not saying they don't care. I say I think they care more about other things. And number one, to say he surrounded himself with convicted criminals, I mean, they were not convicted criminals when he surrounded himself with them. So, I think that's a little too much.
COOPER: Well, they were -- they had been, because they had already broken the law.
SANTORUM: But they weren't convicted. So the idea --
COOPER: They were criminals.
SANTORUM: The idea that he knew they were criminals.
COOPER: Unconvicted criminals.
SANTORUM: You're making the assumption he would have known they were doing criminal activity, which of course, he did not.
COOPER: Unless he was engaged in criminal activity and that's why he had so many around him, like his attorney.
SANTORUM: That's what his attorney has accused him of. And I -- Preet Bharara I think did a very good job of sort of explaining, you know, this is his side of the story. It's obviously President Trump has a different story. The big problem with President Trump's story is it's not been a consistent story. And that's problematic for him.
But we're still, you know -- look, this is a serious problem. This is a game changer in many regards. But looking at who this is coming from and the circumstances around it, I just -- I think it doesn't weigh as heavily as some other charge might.
COOPER: But, you know, Jeff Toobin, isn't it hard to, on the one hand argue, well, this is coming from skuzzy people, when Donald Trump particularly chose these skuzzy people to be around him?
[20:25:11] I mean, if you're bathing in filth and then some of that filth gets on you, it's a little hard to say, well, I can't believe these people are dirty when in fact I'm the one who has employed these people and the very reason I probably employed them is because they're willing to do just about anything for me? I mean, at least in Michael Cohen's case.
TOOBIN: I mean, that's part of it. Or what does it say about your judgment that you picked a national security adviser, convicted felon now. What about your campaign chairman? Convicted felon now. What about your personal attorney? Convicted felon.
Now, it is true, as Rick points out, they weren't convicted felons when he hired them. But what does it say about your judgment that these are the people you choose to surround yourself with? I don't think it says anything good.
SANTORUM: Well, first off, number one, general Flynn was -- is not a smarmy character. I mean, General Flynn served this country, you know, terrifically as a military officer.
COOPER: But he did lie to a federal investigator.
SANTORU: You know, he made a mistake, and he committed a crime, and he took the hit for it. But to suggest that that's a bad guy to surround yourself with, I think is overstating the case.
Paul Manafort has been employed by Republicans all over the map, for a long, long time before Donald Trump. But agreed, I mean --
COOPER: With Flynn, he did amazing stuff in Afghanistan and in his military career, but if you're leading chants of lock her up, and then you're the one who actually gets locked up, you're a hypocrite.
SANTORUM: Look, General Flynn --
COOPER: I mean, yeah?
SANTORUM: Well, look, I don't know if you're a hypocrite.
COOPER: What would you call it?
SANTORUM: Look, he made a mistake. I mean, I think -- COOPER: A victim of karma?
SANTORUM: No, look. A hypocrite is someone who is out there deliberately doing something that he himself actually agrees with. I don't think General Flynn, you know, would tell you --
COOPER: He was representing turkey without acknowledging it and writing op-eds about it, and pretending not to say it. I mean, he's a hypocrite.
SANTORUM: Yes, all I would say is I think it's a little more complex than that. Having said all that --
COOPER: I saw the video.
SANTORUM: Having said all that, you have to look at the president and the people he hired at the time he hired them were not other than Michael Cohen, who I will concede to you is one of those, you know, smarmy characters --
COOPER: Manafort has been a smarmy character for, it seems like, if not decades, at least years. Given what he has now been convicted of.
In fact, the president will tell you he was a smarmy character long before I ever got involved with him. He wasn't smarmy and illegal when I was actually involved with him. So, if anything, all his indiscretions, according to the president, happened long before.
PSAKI: Well, and one of the smarmiest things or smarmiest things he's done or was involved in was trying to get a Trump Tower in Moscow. We haven't talked at all about because there's so much more interesting news today, about Michael Cohen being the front guy for Trump's business in Russia.
You know, this is something I'm sure we're going to delve more into. We'll learn more about in the coming weeks, and Manafort, yes, his conviction wasn't related to Trump, but he was still the guy negotiating the Democratic platform that made it friendlier to Russia.
So, this still will go back to that. And there are a lot more lies that Michael Cohen told that are going to unravel over the coming weeks and months, I would suspect.
COOPER: Yes, Senator Santorum, appreciate it. Jen Psaki, Jeff Toobin as well.
As we touched on a bit already while Michael Cohen was entering guilty pleas in New York City, the jury in the Paul Manafort trial came back with its verdict. Just ahead, we'll walk you through what happened court in that case.
[20:32:16] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The President said almost nothing today about Michael Cohen. He did, however, have plenty to say about Paul Manafort's tax and bank fraud conviction. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Paul Manafort is a good man. He was with Ronald Reagan. He was with a lot of different people over the years. And I feel very sad about that. It doesn't involve me, but I still feel -- you know, it's a very sad thing that happened. This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do. This is a witch hunt and a disgrace.
This has nothing to do with what they started out, looking for Russians involved in our campaign. There were none. I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. Again, he worked for Bob Dole, he worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for many, many people. And this is the way it ends up. And it was not the original mission, believe me. It was something very much different.
So I have nothing to do with Russian collusion. We continue the witch hunt. Thank you very much.
COOPER: Well, that witch hunt, as the President calls it, today led a jury in northern Virginia convicting Manafort of eight felony counts, deadlocking on 10 others. Jessica Schneider is in the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.
Jessica, explain what Manafort was convicted of today.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, you know, Paul Manafort convicted of eight of those 18 counts. The jury deadlocked on 10 counts. Prosecutors still have to decide whether or not to go to a retrial with those. But the eight counts here are significant. They include two -- five counts of tax fraud, two counts of hiding foreign bank accounts, as well as two other counts of bank fraud.
In fact, those two counts of bank fraud carry up to 30 years in prison each. And all in all, Paul Manafort faces up to 80 years in prison. And when he went before the judge, and the judge informed him of this guilty verdict, Paul Manafort, he was very stoic. He showed no emotion. He didn't smile. The one thing he did do, Anderson, when he left the courtroom, he turned and gave a wink to his wife, Cathy, who has been there throughout all of these proceedings.
Paul Manafort's defense team in the meantime says that Paul Manafort is disappointed by this verdict, and they say he's looking at his next options implying perhaps the defense team will appeal.
COOPER: The lightning happening behind you is kind of freaking me out so I'm going to go through this quickly. So I want you to get out in there. The jurors asked to remain anonymous. Does that mean we're likely not to hear from them?
SCHNEIDER: It's likely we probably won't. So as the jury was leaving, they were asking the judge, do not release our names. Do not release our identities. And in fact the judge encouraged them not to talk to the media. He said they weren't completely barred from talking to the media, but really, he advised against it.
[20:35:09] And you know, the judges talked about his concerns about safety for these jurors. The judge saying just a few days ago that he's received threats as a result of this trial. So now he wants to keep those jurors safe. And he'll do it by not releasing their names. Anderson.
COOPER: Right. Jessica Schneider, our thanks to you and your team for braving the weather for. Thanks.
Now, we're joined again by Jeff Toobin. Also joining the conversation is Anne Milgram
So Jeff, even though he was convicted of only eight of the 18 charges, is there any other way to view this verdict except as a victory for Mueller and his team?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It absolutely is. I mean, this is a tremendous victory for Mueller's team. If I could just make one point about sentencing, you know, Jessica is exactly right about if you added up all of the counts he was convicted of, it could be 80 years. That's not really the way federal sentencing works. There are guidelines that group criminal behavior together. And my tentative look at the guidelines suggest that he's really looking at about 10 years rather than 30. Ten years to 70-year-old man, to anybody, is a heck of a lot of time.
COOPER: Would that be 10 years --
TOOBIN: I just think it would be realistic.
COOPER: Would that be 10 years with good behavior down to like -- I mean is it -- could it be down to two or three?
TOOBIN: Or 85. No, no. in federal court, in federal prison, you have to do 85% of your sentence. So if you get 10 years, you're looking at eight and a half years, which is a long time for anybody. But for a 70-year-old man, it's a very big deal that he's looking at. But it's not 30 years
COOPER: Anne, the President today in his reaction, you know, the White House used to say about Paul Manafort, base that they were trying to distance themselves from him, saying look, he was with us for, you know, a couple weeks. A couple months. Underplaying his role. Now the President seems to be pointing out, oh, well he used to work for Reagan and Bob Dole, too. I'm just one in a long line of Republicans that that he worked for. And he's saying it has nothing to do with Russia. It does ignore the fact that Manafort at the convention, that they did change the platform to be more Russia friendly. ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, completely. And it's important to remember that this has been a huge part of Mueller's investigation, the Manafort case. And so the President is now distancing himself from it. He's always minimized his relationship with Manafort. Now he's making it seem like Manafort was a part of a lot of other administrations. He's just one in a long line of people.
But what's really important about this is Mueller already has a number of criminal convictions, but this is the first trial conviction. And it is a big deal that it's not, you know, it's not just Robert Mueller bringing charges against someone. It is a jury of Manafort's peers saying he's guilty of eight felonies, and Manafort is now a convicted felon.
COOPER: Jeff, the fact though that the -- go ahead.
TOOBIN: And if I could just -- if I could add one more thing. There -- he's looking at two more prospects. Mueller has to decide whether he wants to retry him on the 10 counts in which the jury hung. And there's an entirely separate trial with different crimes that is supposed to start in September in Washington, D.C. So Manafort's ordeal is not over, and the question of whether he pleads guilty now is even more pressing, I think, because why he would want to go through this again is a mystery to me.
COOPER: Anne, I mean the President did say he's a good person, a good man. He feels sad for him. The President could pardon him. And then would then, would that pardon also cover the future trial coming up in D.C.?
MILGRAM: The President could say right now, I pardon him on everything he's been charged with. And that pardon would be -- this case, it would be the 10 outstanding charges that Jeff correctly mentions the government has to decide whether or not they'll retry, and the D.C. case. So the President has that power. He hasn't exercised that power yet, and, you know, these cases have been pending for some time. So, it looks to me, feels to me that, and this may be completely the opposite of the way the President would think, but it feels to me that the more the cases get tried and the more that it gets public, that Manafort, you know, essentially didn't pay taxes, and benefitted in this extravagant way financially.
And then remember, the September case is going to be all about the political side as well. So it is -- the heat is going to continue to turn up. And I think personally I think it gets harder and harder for the President to pardon him.
COOPER: Jeff, do you agree with that, that it gets harder? I mean again, this is a President who often, you know, it's -- that may be the conventional wisdom, and a sensible way of looking at it. It doesn't mean it's the way the President views it.
TOOBIN: You know, conventionally, you know, no President would even consider pardoning someone who was so close to him. And remember how seedy the behavior was here. I mean, basically, what this case was about was lying about how much money you're making to save taxes when you're making a lot of money, but then when you're short on money, lying to banks to get loans illegally.
I mean, it is not admirable behavior. Why anyone would consider a pardon for this, you know, would be inconceivable in normal circumstances. But this President operates by his own rules. He has pardoned people outside the normal Justice Department pardon process, which is his right, but it's something most Presidents don't do.
[20:40:15] So, you know, I think it's unlikely that a pardon would happen, but by no means do I think it's out of the question because I don't know how Donald Trump thinks about these issues.
COOPER: You know, it's interesting, the President held this rally tonight and at one point, the audience is chanting drain the swamp. I mean this is the swamp.
COOPER: It's a swamp. I mean you're talking about lies. Michael Cohen was also lied to a bank. Michael Cohen lied about income in terms of cheating American taxpayers on tax money. Lied to a bank about debt that he held in order to get a loan.
MILGRAM: We are awash with all of these stories of people who put their personal financial interests over the interests of the American public, over government. Over, you know, being good citizens of our country. And there is no question that it is -- it's almost hard to imagine how much of a swamp we've seen today.
COOPER: And these are the people that the President either held closely in his orbit before he became President or chose while he was running.
MILGRAM: Yes, you said it before. I mean I think we do judge people by the company they keep, and the President chose these people as company.
COOPER: Yes. Anne Milgram, appreciate it. Jeff Toobin as well.
Today's guilty verdicts and guilty pleas by two men who once worked hand and go up (ph) with President Trump something that's rarely happened to a sitting President. Just ahead, we'll talk about all the President's men with two man who once worked in the Nixon White House and so that President fall from (INAUDIBLE) hand.
Also later, California congressman who was one of the first to endorse Donald Trump for President has been indicted for misusing campaign funds along with his wife.
[20:45:31] COOPER: More on our breaking news tonight. It's been an extraordinary day to say the least for two former close associates of Donald Trump. Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to eight felony counts, and Paul Manafort, found guilty on eight counts of financial crimes. Here with me to talk about all the President's men, two people who of course lived through Watergate, from former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, and David Gergen, at time a staffer in the Nixon White House.
So John, in the span of an afternoon, you have two people in the President's inner circle have become felons. One of them has implicated the President himself in a felony. Does this sound familiar at all?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It certainly does. To take issue with what Jeff said in the first block of your show, it isn't unprecedented. I happened to plead guilty when Nixon was still in office, after I got word that they were about to remove Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor. They asked me if I would consider pleading. And I said I will. And much to the chagrin of my lawyer, who thought I had Oliver North's case, where they can't both immunize you and prosecute you, I told him I didn't want to beat the rap, and I was going to indeed do it. And I thought that Nixon could not get away with removing a special prosecutor.
So I was ready to go and did. And David, of course, was in the White House at that time.
COOPER: So John, how significant do you think it is, what Michael Cohen had to say today?
DEAN: I think it was interesting that he said it during his allocution, which was under oath, where he said to the judge that he was doing it at the direction of the head of the campaign, referring to Trump. Making that clear point in court. When you do plead, you have to explain to the court what you've done and why you have done it. And they want to make sure you're of sound mind and thinking clearly at the moment.
And so I have been through that drill. And it's not the sort of time you give a false statement to a judge. So I think that was probably as awesome and serious of circumstances he could have made that presentation.
COOPER: David, how do you see what happened today in terms of Michael Cohen?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it brought back memories of another day in history. Back in the Watergate investigations. When John Dean went to Nixon and said, there's a cancer on your presidency. John will remember that, it was a famous moment in our politics. And I think what today revealed that there's a cancer on this presidency. It's not to say it's the same as Watergate. I think he can still manage to get out of this. I think if other things turn out all right, but if this metastasizes in coming weeks and months, and we find other, you know, misdeeds among his associated, I think then he's in very, very deep trouble.
COOPER: Well especially regarding Michael Cohen, who theoretically knows where all of the other possible -- if there are other misdeeds, might be in a position to know where at least some of those misdeeds are.
GERGEN: Right, and you got -- this story is coming really close to the President now. We're talking about his top lawyer for many years, we're talking about his campaign manager for a while, is -- you know, Flynn, his national security adviser. All of them, this is when you really, the moments that count because the people they're closing in on do know. They were there. They will have knowledge. And we'll see -- we'll have to see where it goes. But, I think it's a, you know, it's a breakthrough for Mueller. Had he lost this case today? This investigation would probably be closed down pretty quickly.
COOPER: John, there's no one, though, it seems, correct me if you think I'm wrong, around the President who's able to say what you said to Nixon, that there's a cancer on your presidency.
DEAN: That appears correct. But what's interesting from Nixon's perspective when I testified in front of the Senate, he later wrote in his memoir that he wasn't as concerned about my Watergate testimony, which he thought he could survive, indeed I didn't know but a fraction of what I later found in the tapes. But what bothered him and what troubled him and he thought had been stimulated by the Democrats, which was not correct, was the atmosphere I put it in to explain how a Watergate could happen. He thought -- he found that was something he couldn't recover from.
Things like the enemies list, the fact that there had been an attempt to firebomb the Brookings Institute. There had been a break-in at Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office. You know, all the things that I had listed that resulted in me not being very surprised by Watergate happening.
[20:50:01] COOPER: You know, David, it was interesting Senator Santorum was saying that, you know, there are other things that he thinks Mr. Trump's base, the American people care more. Something that President Nixon said in 1973, he said people got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Michael Cohen today accused Donald Trump of being a crook. He said, I'm a crook. He pleaded guilty. And he said, by the way, I was doing it at the direction of this other guy who is now the President and he's a crook too.
GERGEN: Absolutely. I mean this raises fundamental questions now. If Cohen is indeed a felon or, you know, he's pled guilty of a felony, why isn't Donald Trump then guilty of a felony? If Donald Trump was willing to commit a felony to help his campaign with regard to Stormy Daniels, why are we to think that, no, no, no, he couldn't have possibly accepted help from the Russians?
I think finally if -- if there are competing narratives of truth as Rudy Giuliani tells us, then isn't it time for Donald Trump to go before Mueller and testify? I mean aren't the voters entitled -- aren't the people of this country entitled before the midterm elections, before the elections of 2020 to know what really happened, to straighten out these competing narratives? And I think that requires him to go -- I think this puts increased pressure on him to go to Mueller. COOPER: You know, I mean John, I don't want to use this old saying. But, you know, there's an old saying to the effect of, you know, you scratch a lie, you find a crook, you scratch a lie, you find a thief. I mean the President, if he was willing to lie repeatedly about the payoff to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, which according to Michael Cohen -- and we now know he -- if Michael Cohen is actually a felon and did what he just pled guilty to, the President was lying about all that stuff time and time again.
There's no telling what else he was lying about. If he's willing to lie about that, which is relatively -- I mean, you know, if that had come out in the waning days of the election, who knows if it really would have mattered to people to Senator Santorum's point.
DEAN: Well, apparently there's not only the two instances that Michael Cohen testified that he was involved in payoff, but he knows of other situations. So this may be even broader than just Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, which would, I think, raise a significant campaign issue if that's what they were trying to make go away and they successfully did make it go away for all practical purposes.
So, you know, yes, I think your point is well taken, and I think his record of truthfulness in general is being tallied by the "Washington Post" is pretty striking for this President. Richard Nixon did tell some lies, but they were always on big issues and never on day to day small issues.
COOPER: Yes. And, David, its one thing for the "Washington Post" to be tallying it, but a lot of people discount that. To have your former attorney say, you know what? I'm a crook. I'm pleading guilty. By the way, the guy I've been working for is one as well.
GERGEN: This is a whole different league. We've moved into a whole different stage in this still fantastic story. I mean I don't understand why -- how we ever got here.
COOPER: Yes. I wish it was fantastical.
GERGEN: Yes, fantastical is a better way to put it.
COOPER: David Gergen, thank you. John Dean as well.
It's been a rough day for the President's men. Late today we learned that the second of candidate Trump's original two congressional supporters has now been indicted. Congressman Duncan Hunter of California. He and his wife are charged with wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy. They allegedly misused a quarter million dollars in campaign money.
A spokesperson for Congressman Hunter, says he believes the indictment against him and his wife is, quote, purely politically motivated. Again, Congressman Hunter was an early Trump supporter, the second sitting member of Congress to endorse candidate Trump. The first to endorse him was Chris Collins, who was indicted earlier this month on insider trading charges. So, just ahead tonight, look at the extensive relationship over the years between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump, a relationship so close that Cohen once said he'd even take a bullet for Mr. Trump.
[20:56:35] COOPER: Over the years, Michael Cohen was a lawyer, a fixer, a TV surrogate, at times it seemed even a gopher for Donald Trump, everything he could possibly be for Mr. Trump. But after President Trump assumed office and certainly after the FBI raided Michael Cohen's home and offices, that all changed dramatically. Randi Kaye tonight has an examination tonight of what was once a close relationship.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Cohen's loyalty to Donald Trump seemingly unmatched, once telling "Vanity Fair" magazine he'd take a bullet for his boss.
MICHAEL COHEN, FMR DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: They say I'm Mr. Trump's pit bull, that I'm his right-hand man.
KAYE (voice-over): Right-hand man until the relationship went south. For more than a decade, Cohen was the top attorney at the Trump Organization. Trump's go-to when things got ugly. His fixer when things needed cleaning up.
COHEN: I would use my legal skills within which to protect Mr. Trump to the best of my ability.
KAYE (voice-over): Case in point, Cohen threatening an NPR reporter in 2015.
COHEN: I'm warning you, tread very (INAUDIBLE) lightly because what I'm going to do is going to (INAUDIBLE) disgusting. Do you understand me?
KAYE (voice-over): But today Cohen is persona non grata. Ever since his office was raided by the FBI, the White House has been down playing his role, putting some distance between Cohen and the President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President has many attorneys. This isn't his only one.
KAYE (on-camera): But the facts tell a different story, of a cozy relationship. Michael Cohen had dinner with President Trump back on March 25th at Mar-a-Lago. The night before Stormy Daniels' interview with Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes", Cohen had paid the porn star $130,000 for her silence during the campaign. Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says Trump later reimbursed Cohen.
(voice-over): And on April 13th, President Trump called Michael Cohen to, quote, check in before Cohen appeared in court regarding his office raid. Before Trump became President, there was nearly constant contact between the two men.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believe me, Michael Cohen got calls at 3:00 in the morning. Michael and I would be at dinner. The boss would be calling him.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the time.
KAYE (voice-over): Those days are long gone, replaced by a bitter feud, magnified after Cohen released a secret audio recording in which he and Trump spoke about a payment related to a playboy model's story about her alleged affair with Trump.
COHEN: When it comes time for the financing, which will be --
TRUMP: Listen, what financing?
COHEN: We'll have to pay --
TRUMP: Won't pay with cash?
COHEN: No, no, no. I got, no, no, no.
KAYE (voice-over): To Donald Trump, it was the ultimate betrayal, the President tweeting, what kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad. The relationship soured even more after a revelation that Cohen was prepared to tell Robert Mueller that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower where Russians were expected to offer dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump denied it all on Twitter, saying, sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam. Jam or no jam, Michael Cohen's deal with the government certainly won't help heal this relationship.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: We'll see what happens next.
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The news continues on this very busy Tuesday night. I'm going to hand it over to Chris. "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts now.