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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Paul Manafort Found Guilty on Eight Counts. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 21, 2018 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:02]

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Questions about not only the definition of reasonable doubt, but questions about the very nuanced aspects of these sorts of charges.

Bank fraud, tax fraud cases, money laundering cases, remember the ostrich jacket? If that was the most titillating part of the case, you knew it was going to be a very dry presentation of the evidence.

It's strictly the facts, "Dragnet"-style. If that's the case here, they had to come through and actually figure out whether or not the government was able to satisfy their burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt on each element of those claims.

And they asked two questions that were very key, in addition to the reasonable doubt question here, Jake. And one of them was about the definition that even a shell company or a shelf company, corporation.

The other one was about figuring out whether or not if you owned only half of the access to the account, but had delegation authority, did you have to actually file with the IRS? Did you have reporting requirements and tax implications and obligations?

This suggests to you just how nuanced this case is. And they also asked for the government to provide an exhibit list that corresponded to the elements of the case or whether or not they're trying to prove the case per exhibit. That tells you the full breadth of information they have been grappling with.

So it should not come as a surprise after the amount of time at this point, or even the gravity of the case and the charges, that there is some disagreement about the proof.

Now, having said that, we still don't know Jake, whether the eight of the 18 are convictions, whether or not they are acquittals. But you can be sure that the government normally does a cost-benefit analysis about the number of charges it has to prove again in a retrial and what they have already been able to prove.

If it outweighs in terms of convictions, they won't get greedy.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Laura Coates, thanks so much.

Let's get back to CNN's Jessica Schneider outside the courthouse in Alexandria. And, Jessica, we're learning that Judge Ellis wants to interview the

jurors individually?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The judge just announcing how he plans to proceed here.

So Judge Ellis does plan to talk with these jurors one-on-one and he said he plans to get their feelings here as to how they come down on these counts, and maybe if they are holding fast to their opinions, because obviously there's a split here in the jury room as to whether or not they want to convict or acquit here.

So the judge, he is going to go person by person. There are 12 jurors here, six men, six women. He's going to talk to them individually. So presumably that's going to take some time. It's already 4:30. Court sort of closes up here by 5:00. They stayed later last night. They stayed until about 6:15.

But it remains to be seen how this ticktock, how this process is going to go here. So the jury is going to talk -- sorry -- the judge is going to talk to them individually. The judge has told the attorneys in this case without the jury present, he said he is prepared to read their decision as it pertains to those eight counts and, if necessary, the judge is prepared to declare a mistrial as to the other 10 counts.

As Laura pointed out, we don't know as to those eight counts whether they have decided on guilty or acquittal here. So that remains to be seen. But now this process will begin, the judge talking to these jurors one-on-one. Perhaps if some are wavering, maybe he would tell them to go back into the jury room again and continue deliberations.

So it remains to be seen here, Jake. We could be in for a little bit of a process as the judge talks to these jurors one-on-one -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

I want to bring in Preet Bharara again, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Preet, your reaction to the news that the jury in Manafort case, the United States of America vs. Paul Manafort, former president -- I mean, President Trump's former campaign chairman, is able to come to a verdict on eight of the 18 charges, but on the other 10, they are deadlocked?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So my reaction is the same as those who are saying, this is probably very bad news for Paul Manafort.

You never know. It could be either that they decided that they found not guilty on the eight counts. Given my sense of the strength of the case of all the counts, actually, I think it's probably bad news.

I think it's also not great news for Paul Manafort, because they're not saying that even -- even if the eight counts that they have agreed on are acquittals or findings of not guilty, the fact they haven't decided on the others doesn't mean he gets off, as you know. It means there can be a new trial on those counts.

So the government has another bite at the apple even if a mistrial is declared. And then on top of that, Paul Manafort still has a pending trial on another counts in the District of Columbia. So there are a lot more opportunities for the government, even if it has not succeeded on the eight, though I think they, to find Paul Manafort guilty of crimes that should get him substantial jail time.

TAPPER: But, Preet, can the judge essentially split the baby here? Can he say, OK, we're accepting the verdict of either guilty or not guilty on these eight, and the other 10, the prosecution, you get another whack at it?

BHARARA: Yes, he can.

TAPPER: Oh, that's interesting. So no matter what, bad news for Paul Manafort if this is...

(CROSSTALK)

BHARARA: If he's guilty on the eight, then, yes, bad news for him.

[16:35:00]

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: No, even if he's not guilty is what I'm saying. Even if he's not guilty on the eight, the other 10, it's a deadlock, it's a mistrial, he has to start again.

BHARARA: He lives to fight another day. And obviously it's better to be acquitted on the eight.

But he lives to fight another day, actually two other days, right, because he has these counts and then the D.C. case as well. He's not home-free.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I'm sorry.

And we have some more breaking news. I'm going to bring in Jessica Schneider at the courthouse.

The judge has made a ruling in the case of the United States of America vs. Paul Manafort -- Jessica.

SCHNEIDER: That's exactly right, Jake.

The judge declaring a mistrial as to 10 of the counts. These are 10 counts that the jury could not come to a unanimous consensus on.

This is all happening very quickly here. The last word we got is that the judge was going to be talking to these jurors individually. But we understand the jurors are in fact inside the courtroom. The judge has been talking to them. But, in the meantime, the judge has now decided a mistrial will be declared as to those 10 counts where the jury could not reach a consensus. So this, in a sense, is a victory for the defense team here. They were hoping for this hung jury.

And now they have it with at least 10 of these counts. Now, of course, we have those other eight counts. There were 18 counts total. So for those other eight counts, Judge Ellis has indicated here he will be reading the verdict for those eight counts.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: If I can interrupt for just one second, I'm being told that the Manafort has been found guilty of at least one of the counts. I suppose he's reading them out in the courthouse right now.

So if he's guilty of one of the counts, I don't know what that means as for the other seven.

Let me bring in Evan Perez.

What's going on?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.

Right now, the judge is going through the verdict from the jury. And basically what we know right now is that Paul Manafort has been found guilty of at least one count. Now, we don't know exactly what the -- what the details are, but that's happening right now in the courthouse behind me.

Right now, you can actually hear some people out in a crowd here out in the square in front of the courthouse reacting with cheers. So they're hearing the news as well that Paul Manafort has now been found guilty of at least one of these 18 charges that he was facing.

Now, we are still waiting for the details of which count this is. But what we heard, as Jessica pointed out just a few minutes ago, was that the jury had agreed a unanimous verdict on eight counts, and they were deadlocked on 10.

So right now we're waiting to hear the details of which charges he was found guilty on and which ones they were deadlocked on -- Jake.

TAPPER: And what's going on right now for viewers at home is the judge is reading each one of the verdicts.

And that's not just a matter of bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. You have to go through what all the charges are, and then say what the jury has concluded. So one of the 18 counts, Paul Manafort has been found guilty.

And now I'm being told right now that the jury has found Paul Manafort guilty of eight of the 18 counts. The other 10, there has been a mistrial declared.

Let me go to Jessica Schneider with this breaking news.

Paul Manafort found guilty of eight counts.

SCHNEIDER: Guilty on eight of those counts, 10 of those counts sort of wiped away for now, for lack of a better term, because the judge has just declared a mistrial.

The jury couldn't come to a consensus on those 10 counts. And I want to explain for viewers here a little bit of the reason for the delay. There are no cameras, there are no phones allowed inside the court at all.

So what we're relying on are people who are running from the courtroom down to our people who have computers, and they're able to talk to us via landline and computer. So that's the reason why we're not in there with our cell phones.

So, yes, the judge has announced that this jury found Paul Manafort guilty on eight counts. And there has been a mistrial declared in 10.

So we're still waiting to get a bit more information here as it comes out. We did hear some cheers outside the courthouse, as Evan mentioned, so not good for the defense on those eight counts, but a little bit of a win for them as to the 10 counts that have been declared as a mistrial here, but again considerable jail time Paul Manafort is facing.

Remember, if he had been convicted on all 18 counts, he faced 305 years in prison. A lot of these counts are up to 30 years in prison. So this is by no means a win for Paul Manafort. He has been found guilty on eight of these counts -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, so just to take a step back, we started the show in Manhattan.

President Trump's former fixer and longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen is pleading guilty to a number of charges, including campaign finance violations, tax fraud, bank fraud. Meanwhile, 250 miles south, President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has just been found guilty of eight charges.

[16:40:05]

Laura Coates, let me go to you.

I guess the government will have to decide whether or not it wants to have another trial to bring these other 10 charges. But these eight charges, that's very significant. And it does call into question why Paul Manafort did not agree to a plea deal.

COATES: Well, he's 68 years old, Jake. And you're talking about 30 years for each of the charges; 240 years he's facing right now in prison if he actually does not have a successful appeal to overturn the convictions.

He didn't -- he probably did not try to do a plea offer because he thought maybe there was a chance of pardon, and that's still out there. But 240 years, not talking about one life sentence for the 68- year-old man. You're talking about countless life sentences.

This is a huge burden, and the government will not be greedy, I predict, and try to get him the remaining 300 years for each those 10 charges.

TAPPER: And let me bring in Priebus.

And, then, Preet, if you had been prosecuting this case -- and let me just take a moment to break down the charges.

Eight charges. Manifold was found guilty of five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. These are all felony charges. They're very serious charges.

Five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud.

Priebus, if you were the prosecutor, would you just take the W and walk away? Or would you try to -- try to also prosecute the charges that were found hung, the 10 other charges?

BHARARA: Yes, you might.

This is so unusual, as I have said a couple of times, insofar as there is another case pending against him in the District of Columbia. And I think what I would probably do is tell my folks let's see why the case turned out the way it turned out in this case, see what the appropriate sentence would be on the charges of which he was convicted, and see how much difference it would make, if any, if we convicted on the remaining 10 charges, and also see what happens in Washington.

And at the end of the day, maybe it's a wash and you wouldn't get more accountability by convicting someone of additional accounts, depending on how the guidelines work out and what accountability is brought to bear in the District of Columbia case.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: How long do they have to make up their mind about whether or not they want to retry the 10 charges on which he was -- the jury was unable to come to a verdict?

BHARARA: There's no absolute set time. Usually, the court wants to know.

In cases where we had mistrials frequently, I would announce immediately, if there were no convictions at all, that we were prepared to go forward, so people knew that we were serious about holding the person accountable.

But they probably will decide in a relatively short period of time.

TAPPER: And in terms of sentencing, you heard Laura Coates say there that Paul Manafort, if he is given the harshest possible sentence for all of these eight charges, could be facing life in prison. I mean, it's 240 years in prison.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Yes, how long do you actually anticipate? What is the average sentence for charges like this?

BHARARA: I mean, again, it depends on -- I don't know which particular charges he was convicted of and what the dollar amounts were and what the other extenuating circumstances are.

But a white-collar case like this, you're probably talking about a few years. And when people cite those huge amounts, like life in prison or 300 years, they're going on what the statutory maximum is for every count.

And the way the guidelines work often is additional counts that you might be convicted of don't necessarily add any jail time and they become sort of redundant.

TAPPER: And, of course, then there's also the question about whether or not President Trump pardons him.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Yes, there has been some discussion of some charges are state charges, some charges are not state charges in some of these cases. All of these are federal charges.

So President Trump's theoretically would be able to pardon him for all of them?

BHARARA: That's correct.

TAPPER: OK.

And Paul Manafort has acted as if he is a man that is not worried about this case. So, one might wonder if he is counting on such a thing.

BHARARA: He may be. He was pretty brazen when he was on house arrest.

And remember in the other case in D.C. that I keep referring to, he's not only charged with the original counts that the prosecutors brought against him, but also witness tampering. And that's what landed him off of bail and back in prison to begin with.

TAPPER: Let me every in Evan Perez right now for a little bit more detail on the charges -- Evan.

PEREZ: That's right, Jake.

Well, we have now the details of exactly which charges. We're talking about count one through five, which were the tax fraud charges. He was found guilty on all those five charges. And those all carry three- year terms. That would be served concurrently.

The count 12, which is the failure to declare a bank account for the year 2012, that carries a five-year term. And then there's two charges of bank fraud, which are 30-year terms for both of those charges, Jake.

So, Paul Manafort is looking at the rest of his life in prison when this is all over with, if this -- if this is allowed to stand.

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thanks so much.

I want to get reaction from my panel here.

1645

[16:45:00] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: -- this Jake. So, Paul Manafort is looking at the rest of his -- of his life in prison when this is all over with. If this -- of this is allowed to stand.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Evan Perez. Thanks so much. I want get reaction from my panel here. Sorry, guys. It's been -- there's been quite a lot of breaking news.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Everything is breaking.

TAPPER: We haven't taken any commercial breaks. Paul Manafort guilty of eight charges, Jen Psaki?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, if you're President Trump and you have your campaign manager going to jail for a long time you also have your personal lawyer going -- lawyer going to jail for a long time, you're pretty freaked out. Ultimately, this is a political question. Not just a legal question for all of these people. At what point will Republicans in Congress stand up and say this is not acceptable. This is not OK.

There is something very bad going on here. We haven't seen a lot of courage on that front but a lot more is happening that people are going to point to as -- and asking their members to stand up I think.

TAPPER: Now to be fair, these are charges at least as far as we know because we don't know what Michael Cohen's plea is for things that happened before Donald Trump was president. Josh, I'm sure that's something a Republican would say.

JOSH HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I feel kind of like a one-trick pony on this. I think we just continue to -- it's so easy to conflate two issues. The Russia investigation that's ongoing with Mueller and then what just happened with Paul Manafort. I mean, what happened with Paul Manafort looks like five convictions of tax evasion that happened over the previous decade and a half before he even met Donald Trump, right?

PSAKI: But, Josh, look. Paul Manafort also was the guy who was overseeing the changing of the convention platform that made it friendlier to Russia. You have Michael Cohen who is leading the Russia business dealings. There is more here than just this has nothing to do with Trump. We'll learn more but --

HOLMES: We will learn more and if it ever gets into that and then I will concede the point but it hasn't gotten into that. And I think what you're introducing there is a bunch of facts that have absolutely nothing to do with the fact pattern that ultimately convicted Paul Manafort today and --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is not the end. What this case proved, what he's found guilty of is broadly hiding money. When this goes to the D.C. Court, they're going to look at whether he was acting as a foreign agent and also money laundering charges. You don't know where this is going to go, who is going to touch. And I just think we just remind people when Watergate happened, ultimately 40 government officials were indicted or jailed --

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: The plea indictments are stacking up quickly. You have no idea how far this is going to --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I take your -- I take your point but I just want to point out that the money that Paul Manafort is accused of laundering or hiding, a lot of it is from people in Ukraine no who have strong alliances with Vladimir Putin. That's just a factual. That it might -- it happened before Trump, et cetera, but there is the cloud of Russia over this.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: -- looking at these cases, were Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort although these are cases, are they -- are the prosecutors showing they were corruptible and that's the big thing to keep in mind as we move forward.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think -- I think what we're seeing is the culture of corruption. Tax evasion.

TAPPER: You love that.

SANDERS: Yes. I'm here for the culture of corruption today.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: Sing the song. 3.0.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: All right. I'm sorry. Guess what.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Symone, I apologize. We have some breaking news.

SANDERS: Oh, lord.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: -- Michael Cohen in New York. It's like a center (INAUDIBLE) where the President's former fixer is entering a guilty plea. I'm joined now by CNN's Kara Scanell who is inside the court room. Kara, tell us about the plea.

KARA SCANELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jake, I mean, it's a -- is a pretty intense scene inside there. Michael Cohen is addressing the court right now, he just walked through how he committed eight counts including tax evasion on his personal income taxes, getting them false statement to a bank and then critically he just described how he violated campaign finance laws two ways, both involving -- one of those involving the Karen McDougal payment.

And the other one is Stormy Daniels payment. He did not identify other women by name but it was clear from the evidence, the $150,000 payment and $130,000 payment. Now specifically, when asked by the judge to describe the crime, Michael Cohen said, in coordination and at the direction of the candidate for Federal office. He had made these payments. So he is implicating Donald Trump in this. Although not specifically by name. So we just heard that.

I ran out of the courtroom. Michael Cohen is still answering questions by the judge who is running through the process here informing him of his rights and we also learned that as part of this agreement he's agreed to a prison term, although the judge is not bound by this, but of between just under four years and five years in prison. But the judge will sentence him later at a future date, so this could change.

But that is the agreement between the prosecutor's office and Michael Cohen and his attorneys, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. well, that's stunning news. Kara, let me ask you, I mean, just first of all to underline, you said that when Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance laws violations, he was referring to Stormy Daniels and he said he did it, "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for Federal office" which specifically could only be President Trump.

[16:50:08] That is stunning news. You said something else about a different campaign finance charge before that. Can you repeat that?

SCANELL: Well, one of those also had to do with the payment that was made to Karen McDougall. He said that he had worked with the media company which we know is American media, the publisher of the National Enquirer to craft this deal. And he again in that payment also mentioned at the direction and with coordination of the candidate for office who could only be Donald Trump.

So both of those, the Karen McDougall one, he did also mention the media company although they have not been charged with anything, neither has of course the President. But in both instances the first one having to do with Karen McDougall is that in coordination and that the direction of Candidate Trump and with American media and then the second, Stormy Daniels payment, he said also again in coordination and at the direction of President Trump who's then the candidate, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kara Scanell, that's stunning news. Let me bring in Preet Bhara. Former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York. What does this mean for President Trump? You have his former campaign fixer pleading guilty to campaign finance laws and saying that he did so in coordination with and at the direction of President Trump and both of these are hush money payments, one to a former playboy playmate of the year.

The other one to a porn star and director. What's that mean for Donald Trump?

PREET BHARARA, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK (via telephone): That's extraordinary and stunning as you said. I didn't expect it to be quite as vocal and direct and clear as what Kara just described. I think that's terrible news for President Trump. I'm surprised given that allocution in open Federal court that there's not a cooperation agreement.

But it may be that they have what they need and the information will be provided obviously to the special counsel and will be in whatever report. He prepares for the deputy attorney general and for further distribution to Congress. But I agree. That is a big deal. You don't hear that kind of thing. But that kind of specificity of someone in that seat of power. During a guilty plea allocution which by the way, it's on under oath.

All the things that he said and allow the judge to accept the plea Federal is under oath.

TAPPER: And is there legal exposure for President Trump or Justice Department guidelines or a sitting president cannot be indicted and that's the end of that?

BHARARA: Well, there's something called impeachment if there's evidence of a -- of a -- of a crime and a particular if the constitution provides, high crime or misdemeanor. Again, I want to caution folks. I didn't attend the hearing. I don't know all the details. I don't know everything that was said. But based on what was just described, it sounded like Michael Cohen was directly implicating his former boss, his client, the president in the Federal crime.

TAPPER: Let me bring in Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal correspondent. Jeffrey, campaign finance violations, Rudy Giuliani, pooh-poohed them a few months ago saying it's just generally a small fine, not that big of a deal. Obviously, other people have been sentenced to jail for campaign finance violations. It depends on the individual case, it depends on the individual judge. What's your reaction to this news?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Jake, this is news of immense significance. Here you have a now convicted felon Michael Cohen, an admitted felon, saying that his co-conspirator and/or his aider and abettor was the President of the United States. I mean, that is something that is I think basically without precedent in American history. I don't think that happened during Watergate.

That someone pled guilty and said the sitting president was a co- conspirator. Now, it is true that there are Justice Department guidelines that say a president cannot be -- cannot be indicted. That's -- that is -- I mean, that is something that Robert Mueller has certainly apparently agreed to follow. But this crime could be prosecuted after Donald Trump leaves office. This crime could be referred to Congress as a high crime and misdemeanor.

But the fact that we have a admitted felon saying that the sitting President of the United States was his co-conspirator in this felony is a pretty extraordinary piece of news.

TAPPER: Since a sitting president cannot be indicted, at least according to Justice Department guidelines, does this become as Jeffrey and Preet suggested a political matter which would mean that the current Congress or the next Congress which may, in fact, be a Democratic house, we don't know, perhaps even Democratic Senate, though I doubt it, that -- it becomes a political discussion.

[16:55:07] If President Trump broke finance laws -- campaign finance laws in having hush money paid in one form or another to Karen McDougall, a former Playboy playmate and Stormy Daniels, a former porn star. What does that mean?

CARPENTER: Well, it means that the President clearly worked to suppress information from voters before the election but more broadly you have one of the closest allies Michael Cohen saying the President directed me to lie, to cover up a secret that he wanted to keep and I committed crimes along the way. Given the way that this White House conducted itself, you may see that narrative play out again.

SANDERS: Jake, what we heard today is that the -- what we know today is that when the President hired criminals, criminals include right now Michael Cohen, that include Paul Manafort. We don't know if those criminals also include Michael Flynn and who else down the line. This does, in fact, become --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: But Flynn pleaded guilty, so --

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: And Flynn pleaded guilty. So, we don't know who else. The White House has been very, very, very resistant to answering key questions on this. I do not think we were going to get truth from this White House, truth from Sarah Huckabee Sanders. And so the question, what is Congress going to do? Where does Congress stand on this? I do not see an appetite from the Republican Congress.

Particularly Republicans in the House to bring any types of articles of impeachment or any type of center or any legislation to -- about this -- about the President. So this becomes what are voters going to do in 2018? We have 77 days. Our folks going to vote for Democrats and going to hold this White House accountable?

TAPPER: Josh used to worked for the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. What do you think Republicans have an obligation to do if the President has now been implicated in a -- I don't know if conspiracy is the right word but certainly some sort plot to break the law to hide information?

HOLMES: Well, I think, you know, look, for 10 minutes removed from first credible allegation of anything that touches the President during his campaign. So, you know, let's set that aside because what we've heard right now is from the personal attorney, a testimony under oath in court this in fact happened. I'm sure that there's another side of the story and also campaign finance laws --

TAPPER: Well, the President has already --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: This is complicated. Giuliani has already said that the President did make -- did make the payment. We know that he made the payment.

HOLMES: Sure, absolutely. But you have to unpack the facts here because campaign finance law is also extremely tricky. We're talking about something that Don McGahn who's the campaign chairman or the general counsel on the campaign, did he have knowledge of this, right? Was this a campaign effort that paid off --

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: The question is, is the President guilty of a Federal crime? What are Republicans going to do in that case? So, they are --

TAPPER: If it's true. She said if. She said if.

PASKI: True. The reality is many Republicans are nervous about the base because Trump has a lock hold on them and they don't want to anger the base. That is the politics of what is happening right now. They're going to have to make some decisions about whether they're going to stand up and put country before party or not.

CARPENTER: They're not. They're going to let this roll. They're going to let Mueller write the report and let voters decide.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: -- conflict adversary Republicans, you have seen ever since Trump popped on the scene in the summer of 2015.

SANDERS: I think Democratic votes are fired up. I think folks -- or I think Democrat -- Democratic voters, independent voters are upset about what they're seeing from this White House, from the policies from Congress across the board are going to go to the polls and when they go on the polls they're going to vote for change. And that change is going to results in the Democrats taking back the House and hopefully some people being held accountable.

I mean, like what do you say to this?

TAPPER: Hold on one second. I think -- I believe Manafort's legal team is coming to the -- to the microphones and I think they're going to speak. They just walked out. I'm sorry. They're not speaking. That was Paul Manafort's team and his wife. There they are walking out of court. A bad day for the Manafort family. Paul Manafort found guilty of eight counts. It's tough to keep these two cases.

We are just talking about the Michael Cohen case and how he pleaded guilty to eight counts. Eight counts being the big -- the big number today. Eight counts for Paul Manafort. Eight counts of pleaded guilty by Michael Cohen. Josh, I understand we're still waiting for the facts to get -- to get in and there is another side of the story. We want to hear it. But obviously on its face you have the president's attorney, fixer, pleading guilty to violating the law.

To pay off two women who -- with whom President Trump allegedly had an affair when he was just private citizen. And implicating President Trump doing that. On its face, there's a horrible story for the president.

HOLMES: Yes. Oh, absolutely. And I don't want to minimize the significance of that development. Extremely significant. No question about it. But I'll tell you. What most Republican voters are thinking right now and I know you all are going to be surprised to hear this, but what most Republicans are thinking right now, what the heck this does have to do with Russia? That's why we're doing this.

CARPENTER: Well, I'll just one thing. This is not purely a campaign issue. He directed White House staffers to lie about this. This is not over.

TAPPER: All right. We're awaiting a press conference of prosecutors in New York in the Michael Cohen plea.

[17:00:00] Any moment or coverage on this major breaking news continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.