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Michael Cohen Facing Jail Time; Mueller Crushing Trump's People; Michael Cohen Sentencing in December; Trump Says the Russia Investigation is a Witch-Hunt; Paul Manafort's Conviction. Aired 10- 11p ET

Aired August 21, 2018 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Those are bad things, and if we don't all see that, then the truth has been politicized. That means our institutions have taken a hit. Just as Trump wants.

Respect for law stains, we're in silly silos, ugly notions of us versus them. Divisions like that is toxic. Today will be the test. If what we learn today doesn't matter to people, what will?

CNN with Don Lemon or "CNN TONIGHT" starts right now.

Today has to matter. It doesn't mean it's the end for the president. It's nothing like that, but people need to agree, Don, these types of lies, these types of fraud, it's wrong.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I just want to look. This is a, I think it's significant. Obviously the truth matters, we talk about that, but this is a 180 for Michael Cohen. This is January this year.

President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence talking about the payments, and then he says in January 17th again. It's old news. It wasn't true then. It's not true now, and then he says I used my own personal funds to facilitate the payments.

And then Sarah Sanders says there was no knowledge of any payments from the president and then it goes on and on and here's where we end up today. This is where end up, Chris, if I can get through this. Where he says to the judge in this case at the direction of a candidate.

Now, all along you and I have been fighting allegations from Trump's people that it was fake news. Nothing to it. Witch-hunt, move along. He doesn't know anything about it. Today, can't really say that, can you?

CUOMO: Well, they will say Cohen is an admitted liar, he is lying now to help himself with the government.

LEMON: He doesn't have a reason to lie, as you said. It doesn't behoove him to lie.

CUOMO: It would hurt him. LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: If he says that this was done at the president's direction he better have proof.


CUOMO: And if he doesn't, they say it in the plea agreement, Don, the allocution, that's when the judge tells you, you know, it's the deal right before sentencing, if you want to say anything, he took that opportunity. If he's lying he's dying in terms what have this deal means.

LEMON: We both know Michael Cohen from the campaign and just from being a character, a person here in New York. Again, as I said, this is a total 180 for him. I cannot wait to hear him speak. I cannot wait to hear his side of the story. Boy, is that going to be amazing.

CUOMO: I can't wait to see the proof.


CUOMO: Lanny Davis just said, I said do you think he knows more things about wrongdoing by the president or any potential even criminal behavior. And he said yes, and he'll say we'll see what happens. He wants to tell the truth but, yes, I believe he knows things. If he can show what he knows, this could be very significant.

LEMON: Yes. I have Lanny on. You did a great job with him. I'll have Lanny on a little bit later, as well as Michael Avenatti and other players on this. So Chris, thank you. We'll see you tomorrow. Nice job. I enjoyed the interviews.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Here's our breaking news. Only the best people. Donald Trump promised you that he would hire only the best people, and tonight two of those people handpicked by Donald Trump they are facing years behind bars.

One of the president's closest confidants pleading guilty to eight criminal counts in New York. At almost the same time, at the same moment that a jury in Virginia finds his former campaign chairman guilty of eight counts of financial crimes, charges so serious that all together they carry a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison.

First, there's Michael Cohen, the president's former fixer and keeper of secrets who at one time held a position of deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee pleading guilty today.

Stating that, quote, it's a quote, "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office." He kept information that would have been harmful to that candidate from becoming public.

And while Cohen doesn't name the candidate, there is no question who he is, and that's Donald Trump. So Cohen is referring to hush money payments to two women who say they had affairs with Trump. Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

Now remember this tape. It was obtained by CNN. It's of Trump and Cohen discussing paying for rights to McDougal's story. Here it is.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Correct. So I'm all over that, and I spoke to Alan about it. When it comes time for the financing which will be--



COHEN: We'll have to pay?

TRUMP: Want to pay with cash?

COHEN: No, no, no, no, no. I got it.

TRUMP: Check?


LEMON: Well, today's guilty plea is absolutely stunning coming from a man who was in Trump's inner circle for a decade, who once said he'd take a bullet for Trump and vowed loyalty over and over and over.


[22:05:00] COHEN: I'd protect Mr. Trump. I'll do anything to protect Mr. Trump. I'm obviously very loyal and dedicated to Mr. Trump.


LEMON: So a person close to the president telling CNN that Trump has been stewing all day. That source describing Cohen as, quote, "the rat," but that's not the only legal bombshell for team Trump tonight.

Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman, found guilty of eight counts. The number is eight today, right? Five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud in the first case brought to trial as part of the Mueller investigation.

Jurors unable to reach a verdict on 10 other charges, and with the legal walls closing in, the president attempts to defend Manafort while conspicuously saying next to nothing about Cohen.


TRUMP: I must tell you that 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. It's a witch-hunt. It's a disgrace.


LEMON: Well, you know, the president would like you to believe that Mueller's investigation is a witch-hunt. He says it all the time. It's not a witch-hunt. No matter how many times he says, it don't forget special counsel Robert Mueller has already gotten five guilty pleas.

Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates, Paul Manafort's deputy, pleaded guilty to two criminal charges, conspiracy to defraud the United States and making false statements. As part of his plea deal he agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.

And then there's Dutch lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his discussions with Gates. He served 30 days in prison and was deported to The Netherlands in June.

Richard Pinedo pled guilty to identity fraud connected to Russian interference in the 2016 election. He run a business selling dummy bank accounts to shadowy buyers including a group of Russians using social media to sow discord in American politics.

Pinedo's lawyer said he didn't know the identity of his customers. He cooperated with Mueller's investigation as well.

Fired Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with former Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. He has been cooperating with the special counsel's investigation. His sentencing hearing was delayed for the fourth time today.

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI after he lied about his interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government.

Mueller last week told a judge that Papadopoulos lied repeatedly and caused damage to the investigation. The special counsel has recommended that Papadopoulos be sentenced up to six months in prison.

This is no witch-hunt. These are not the best people. A lot of lying going on there. A lot of Russian connections. These are facts, and another fact the president won't like, Mueller's investigation is far from over.

Let's discuss. Laura Coates is here. She's a legal analyst. Jack Quinn is one as well. Also, former U.S. attorney Michael Moore, and Kan Nawaday -- Kan Nawaday, the former corruption prosecutor for the Southern District of New York.

Good evening. Thank you all for joining us. Laura, I'm going to start with you. Michael Cohen pleading guilty to eight felonies and Paul Manafort found guilty on eight counts. A dramatic and monumental day in U.S. history. LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It absolutely, is and if you're

talking about this from the perspective everyone saying well, hold on. None of this says Russian collusion happened. None of this is actually about Russian collusion.

Well, that is quite the destructor that's trying to fuel this narrative from the president. In reality, these cases all came out of the mandate that Mueller had to probe Russian collusion. The fact that he was able to sense out the dangers, the criminality and farm out one of the cases does not mean this is a witch-hunt.

What he did was showcase to the American people today that there was validity to his charges, credibility to his overall charge and campaign, and it also emboldened them going forward.

Remember, there is a case still waiting to happen for Paul Manafort in Washington, D.C. in a matter of weeks, so the notion that this is an attack on simply Paul -- Robert Mueller and the president wants to fuel that narrative is simply belied by the statements.

[22:09:55] And, finally, you know, it seems Michael Cohen said that he was willing to take a bullet for the president. Well, I think he never contemplated that perhaps through Rudy Giuliani it was Trump who would hold that gun and when the gun was put to his head, guess what he did, self-preservation.

LEMON: You had been saying that all along. Most people -- many of you on the show have been saying all along it's going to be about self- preservation and here we are.


LEMON: Jack, you were the White House counsel under President Clinton. If you're the White House counsel tonight, what are you thinking?

JACK QUINN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm thinking that this was the worst day since I've been on the job. You know, this was really a double- barreled assault on the White House -- well, on the White House -- it was really on the president. Let's face it.

Michael Cohen's statement in court today was incredibly dramatic, significant and will haunt this president in many ways for months to come. Here he said that he committed a violation of the law, that he did so at the direction of the president of the United States. He has identified the president as his co-conspirator in that crime. That is a gigantic deal.

As for the Paul Manafort case as Laura said there's another case yet to come, but frankly, I take real offense that at the idea that the president would on this day say Paul Manafort is a good man.

A jury of a dozen men and women in the State of Virginia found that Paul Manafort stole from his fellow citizens when he hid money and refused to pay taxes like all of them do and like everybody else in this country does. He stole money from the American people and the United States government. That is not the conduct of a good man.

LEMON: Yes. Kan, listen, you work for the Southern District in New York prosecuting corruption and fraud. This is an example that no one is above the law. You heard what Jack said there, you know. He defrauded people, right? He broke the law, but no one is above the law, and this shows is.

KAN NAWADAY, FORMER PROSECUTOR, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Absolutely. That's absolutely right, and that's why these cases are so important. That's why they have to be allowed to go to their logical course. That's why they have to be prosecuted because if you have corruption -- corruption corrupts from the top it, and you need to have deterrents.

And these cases are so important, and frankly the judges when they come to sentencing these men are going to take into account the fact that they were in these positions of power and that they abused it.

And frankly, you know, I shudder to think what they will get in so far as sentences, but part of one of the very important factors of sentencing is deterrents effects and these are cases that you've got to make a statement about.

LEMON: Why do you say you shudder to think? Do you think they are going to get harsh sentences?

NAWADAY: They very well good. They very well could get harsh sentences. These judges are reasonable, but, you know, Michael Cohen has a guidelines calculation with what the parties, the government and his attorneys have agreed is, you know, the top of the guidelines here for his sentence is 63 months. The judge doesn't have to do that. It's up to the judge to figure out the sentence.

LEMON: Yes. The judge has leeway to do what he wants. You know, Michael, remember this investigation of Michael Cohen. It grew out of a referral from the Mueller investigation. His team referred it to the Southern District of New York. You know, the president and his folks like to say it's not connected to the president at all, but that's important. It's all connected.

MICHAEL MOORE, PARTNER, POPE MCGLAMRY: It's all connected, and it was clearly not a good day for the president. I think you've got to remember there are two distinct investigations going on at this time. There is the Southern District of New York which received the investigation because of Bob Mueller's referral.

And Mueller, I think was mindful of his authority under the memo and he was basically looking at all things Russian. I think that's really today there's been a lot of talk on the news about the whole idea of whether or not Cohen is going to cooperate with the government.

And I would suggest to you that what it tells me tonight is that in fact this is well planned by Bob Mueller to not have a cooperation angle in the Southern District of New York, in fact, to keep the cases separate. In that way nobody can come back at the end of the day and say, so Bob Mueller was really the puppet master up there pulling the strings in the Southern District of New York. He really didn't mean to refer it out.

My guess is that you'll see by Cohen getting sentence it had, and under the federal rules of criminal procedure there's rule 35 mostly that can be filed by the government at the end of the day which allows the government to come back after a sentence and say, hey, you know, this guy came to us and helped us.

He talked to us about somebody, he gave us information that was important in another criminal investigation and so now we want you to come in and assist him and maybe give him some type of credit toward his sentence or a sentence reduction.

[22:15:06] And that has not happened yet and that's because Mueller is a smart enough prosecutor to know to keep his hands clean, to let these investigations run their separate track, these cases run their separate tracks and then he can send somebody in at the end of the day to come in and go talk to Cohen and find out what Cohen has to say.

There's no way that Cohen walked into that courtroom and pled guilty and is looking at four and a half, five years of prison away from his family without at least some consideration that, you know, he's going to tell the truth, and I think Lanny Davis has basically told us that.

I mean, he said without question he's going to turn over a new leaf. He's coming forward. He's at a place in his life where he wants to quit hiding and he wants to tell the truth. And I think we've got to put some stock in that and we can expect to hear more from Cohen and what he knows as the months' progress.

LEMON: Unindicted co-conspirator. We'll discuss whether he is or isn't. Don't give it away yet. But stick around everyone.

When we come back, Michael Cohen implicated the president in his guilty plea today. So, why is team Trump claiming that he doesn't have anything damaging on the president? We'll discuss that.


LEMON: We're back now with Laura, Jack, Michael and Kan. Laura has gotten herself a drink of water so she's doing fine. Been there. And when you get the tickle--


COATES: Thank you.

LEMON: -- there's nothing you can do except take care of it.

COATES: Thank you.

LEMON: So, listen, I want to ask you about this, the ramifications for the president, Laura, this unindicted possibility, unindicted co- conspirator.

[22:20:05] With Michael Cohen implicating President Trump in these campaign finance violations, what's the legal exposure to the president right now?

COATES: It's extremely high. Remember, the campaign finance laws are structured in a way that says you have to report any contributions that are made and there's a maximum cap on the amount that you can actually give, and you can't even use a loan system where somebody pays it for you and then you reimburse after an election because that would actually undermine the whole premise and reason you have campaign finance laws which is to have transparency and who is providing money to a campaign.

So if you now have Michael Cohen, and if he's to be believed through his allocution in court, that he was directed and coordinated with the then candidate Donald Trump to actually violate campaign finance lawyers and the important part he added was to influence the election, well, what you have here is a prosecutor's office that says to themselves is there anything to corroborate this statement, and you've got the president's own statement on the back of Air Force One.

You had the tapes that were released by Lanny Davis on our own airwaves on CNN about a conversation between Michael Cohen and the president of the United States, then candidate, about the payment for not only Karen McDougal to AMI, the owner of National Enquirer but also payments in the future for Stormy Daniels.

You have all this corroboration that's coming into play. And it's no wonder now why Giuliani would have felt so compelled to go on a really slanderous campaign to try to undermine the credibility and head off what Michael Cohen might have said. You found it today in one of the counts he pled guilty to.

LEMON: I was going to play it a little bit later, but since you mentioned it, let's play. This is Air Force One. I want to play what the president initially said on Air Force One when asked about the payment to Stormy Daniels. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: No, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would Michael Cohen make this if there was no truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney, and you have to ask Michael Cohen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: No, no.


LEMON: Well, we know that's not true because Rudy Giuliani actually said that Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for the payment. Here's the question. Are we, Jack, are we in impeachment territory here?

QUINN: Sure. If by that you mean are the acts of which -- with which the president has been accused here, would they constitute high crimes and misdemeanors? Of course they would. No doubt about it.

And by the way, Lanny -- I heard Lanny Davis say earlier tonight that Rudy Giuliani has himself, in the past acknowledged that the president directed Michael Cohen to make these payments.

LEMON: Right.

QUINN: So I it's not that he just knew about them after the fact and reimbursed them. At least Davis says that Donald Trump directed Cohen to make these payments, so he's tightly bound up in this.

Look, I'm probably perhaps the only one on this panel who actually thinks that an indictment -- that it's not a clear question whether a president can be indicted or not. There's nothing in the Constitution.

LEMON: I'm glad you said that because that was my next question because everyone keeps assuming that because everybody said that. But is that true, can a sitting president not be indicted?

QUINN: Let me tell you why. I've written a piece on this. Let me tell you in summary why I think that's the case. Number one, there's nothing in the Constitution that says a president has immunity from prosecution.

By contrast, there are provisions in the Constitution that immunize members of Congress from prosecution in the speech and debate clause. The framers, therefore, knew how to immunize people and they chose not to do that with respect to the president.

The two pieces -- the two documents that are relied on to make this argument that a president can't be indicted are memos of the office of legal counsel in the Justice Department. One was issued during the Watergate era and another during the Clinton scandals.

The point I want to make here is that as good as the lawyers are in the office of legal counsel, it's important that we remember that they work for the president who was then the subject of the question whether or not the president can be indicted.

So it's hard to say that they were completely unbiased. The office of legal counsel, great lawyers, but they are not members of the Supreme Court.

LEMON: Well, yes. Kan, you're shaking your head when I ask you that question. Do you agree, is it absolutely certain that a sitting president can't be indicted?

NAWADAY: It's not absolutely certain. That's been the practice based on those memos, and as a practical matter I think it's already been said at least by Mueller and by others that they are going to abide by that.

LEMON: Right.

[22:24:55] NAWADAY: So whether or not anyone -- it could be litigated, and, of course, it can, just like anything could be litigated it's doesn't seem like it's going to be. No one is going to actually test it in this station.

LEMON: Michael, I just want to read the statement. This is from Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani. It says, "There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government's charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen's actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time."

He's not mentioning that his client the president was implicated today in this crime.

MOORE: I'm guessing that he gave that statement before he read the charging documents and he would have seen Trump's name basically all over his ghost appearing all over this the pages of the document indicating a candidate running for president and complicity in the federal election law.

Let me say this about the president being indicted. I think it's an unsettled question. I think at the time though, our framers expected the men at the time who were in the Congress to have the fortitude to step forward and pull back a president who exceeded his authority.

The problem is we're at a point in history when the -- the members of Congress don't have that statesmanlike courage, and so we're having to debate this question on whether or not a president can be indicted.

I don't think our framers ever imagined a time when the Congress would not keep the executive in check, and I think that's why we have checks and balances.

I think that's why you have co-equal branches of government, but we're at a time when the Republicans have decided to let this president run rogue, and so commentators like us get on here and talk about whether or not the law allows for a sitting president to be indicted so he can be removed from office.

That's really -- we're talking about it because the members of Congress have abdicated the duties to which they swore an oath.

LEMON: All right. Thank you all. I appreciate your time. Much more to discuss. When we come back, my next guest says this is the first time since Watergate that a president has been accused of being personally involved in a campaign finance violation. So what will that mean for President Trump?


[22:30:01] LEMON: And we're back now. Michael Cohen, by the way, is scheduled to be sentenced in December, and he faces years in prison. But what about the potential impact of his plea deal? What could it have on Trump's presidency? So let's discuss now, CNN Contributor Larry Noble, a campaign finance law expert and a former general counsel at the Federal Election Commission.

You're the perfect person to have on, Larry, thank you so much for coming on, good evening to you.

LARRY NOBLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: How serious is it for the President that his former attorney directly implicates him in coordinating a campaign finance violation?

NOBLE: It's very serious. What Michael Cohen said today in court directly implicates the President in a campaign finance violation. He says he directed and coordinated with Cohen to do these acts, which were the campaign finance violations. And that is the first time -- I have been practicing campaign finance law for -- I hate to admit it 40 years.

That's the first time I ever heard something like that, where the President has been directly accused of these type of campaign finance violations.

LEMON: So it's just then you're saying its uncharted territory then. So what does that mean for the President? We've been going back and forth about whether a sitting President can be indicted or not. But anytime you're accused and if found guilty of a campaign finance violation, I would imagine that's serious, maybe. I don't know. You tell me.

NOBLE: Well, this type of violation is very serious. This violation -- there's several violations here. It's a corporate contribution -- actually ore than one corporate contribution. It's failure to report contributions, successive contributions, and what the President did, according to Michael Cohen, is both direct that these contributions be solicited in a sense saying that lets see if we can get this money.

One from presumably AMI, the media company, and then also have Michael Cohen advance the money. And then two, as the candidate, he accepted these illegal contributions.

LEMON: Is the President at risk of being criminally prosecuted?

NOBLE: Yes. I think he is. Now well, anybody should be at the risk of being criminally-prosecuted. As your last panel discussed, there's this whole question about whether a President can be indicted. I go along with those who say it's an untested area. But as somebody noted that the Department of Justice seems to accept the idea that the President cannot be indicted.

So that, you know, so that maybe Trump's last saving in this. But this is an issue that Congress should take up. This may very well be a high crime and misdemeanor for impeachment.


LEMON: Could a criminal charge serve as a basis for impeachment?

NOBLE: Yes, yes. The House itself gets to decide what's a high crime and misdemeanor, and can decide to impeach him over this. He does not have to be convicted. Remember, Nixon was never convicted of anything. He was an unindicted co-conspirator. So it is clearly a very serious matter for Trump. If he wasn't President, I have no question that they would indict him and charge him.

But as President, the question is can they do that? But it's really serious. And I think it's going to taint his presidency. Also, I don't think this is the end of it. I think there are more things that are going to come out, because if you look at the actual information that the government had, they talk about coordination with the campaign.

And so I wonder what else was coordinated with the campaign, what other types of deals were coordinated with the campaign.

LEMON: Very interesting. So even if -- you know, I will discuss this with my political types because they probably know more about this, but you can hear the deafening silence from Republican lawmakers in Washington now. And so impeachment, that's a ways off, because I don't know if they would even act to do it, because they are so complicit now.

Listen, even if the Justice Department decides not to indict a sitting President, does anything preclude him from being indicted after he leaves the White House?

NOBLE: No. He can be indicted after he leaves the White House. There is a question of the statute of limitations and how long they can go on this. But yes, he can be indicted after he leaves the White House. And, you know, that's a real possibly. But, you know, as you allude to, the political implications are tremendous.

At some point, the Republicans are going to have to accept that this is real, that they can't just keep saying that this is unimportant or, you know, nothing has been proven here. This is real. This is serious. We have a President who has been accused by his lawyer of violating campaign finance laws. So I think that the political fallout of this may be greater than Trump is hoping for.

LEMON: You know, back in 2011, former Vice Presidential nominee, John Edwards, remember, indicted for using illegal campaign contributions to conceal his mistress. Cohen says these payouts were to silence women alleging affairs a month before an election. The timing is important here. Is there a parallel, do you think?

[22:34:52] NOBLE: There is a parallel but this is a much stronger case.

LEMON: Really?

NOBLE: Yes. And John Edwards was indicted and tried, and he was -- there was a hung jury on several of the accounts, and he was not convicted on others. He was acquitted on the other accounts. But what happened there was -- one of the big issues there was whether or not in fact the payments made to keep a love affair he was having and a child he had, keep them quiet, whether those payments actually were from the campaign, because they started actually long before the actual election.

And the woman who made the payments was said to be a longtime friend. In this situation, we have Cohen saying that the whole purpose of this was to stop the information about these affairs getting out before the election. We have the corporation one, which is presumably AMI, saying (Inaudible) that they were going to basically catch the stories before they could get out.

So there was no question that these are for influencing a federal election. These payments were for that purpose. And that is the core of the violation, for the purpose of influencing a federal election. So I think this is a much stronger case than the John Edwards case.

LEMON: So this is the important thing, I think, that might make a difference politically, OK, Larry. Go with me here, because his supporters and Republicans, they aren't saying anything, and they are standing by him because of other things, like Supreme Court justices and all of those things, right? But if he gets into a position where that can happen, that may turn the tide.

How does the President being implicated in conspiracy to commit a felony impact Trump's Supreme Court pick like Brett Kavanaugh?

NOBLE: Well, that's a good question. I think, you know, everybody talks about his hardcore support. You know whatever it is, 30, 40 percent of people who will basically watch him shoot somebody on the street and not care about it. But the ones they have to worry about are -- all Republicans have to worry about, are that softer support, that support that went over to him, the suburban support, the support that went over to him thinking that he would become, quote, Presidential.


LEMON: More independent-minded voters.

NOBLE: More independent-minded. Things that he said on the campaign trail would not be things he did when he was actually President. It's much worse than what he talked about on the campaign trail. I think that Republicans have to start being concerned about whether they are going to lose those independent voters, those what I call soft Republican voters, and that may affect Kavanaugh.

That may affect how far out on a limb they are willing to go, especially people like Susan Collins that -- whether they are really willing to take on their more moderate supporters and say we just don't care about this stuff.

LEMON: Larry, I could listen to you for hours. I really enjoyed this conversation. Please come back as often as possible.

NOBLE: Thank you for having me.


LEMON: We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:40:00] LEMON: So the President, again, trying to slam the Russia investigation as a witch hunt hours after Robert Mueller scored a major victory with Paul Manafort's conviction on eight counts of financial crimes.

I want to bring now CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney, and Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge.

Good evening to all of you. Is it even possible to overstate, Juliette, the significance of this day?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's not. I mean I think it got a lot of us out of vacation today, a lot of your analysts.


LEMON: That's for sure.

KAYYEM: I think if you put all the pieces together, I think what today showed was how corruption is a feature and not a bug in the Trump administration. Manafort, known for his deals and corruption for foreign entities, was hired not despite that but because of it, right? So Michael Cohen, known to be the fixer against the law often, is hired not despite that but because of it. And let's not also forget Mike Flynn, the former national security...


LEMON: Wait. Stand by. Stand by. Stand by. Juliette, is that your mic? Whose mike is that? Juliette, it's your hair. Can you just move your hair off the mic, left shoulder?

KAYYEM: Thanks, guys.

LEMON: All right, go on.


KAYYEM: This is vacation. How is that?

LEMON: Yeah, all right.

KAYYEM: And Mike Flynn, Mike Flynn, then former National Security Adviser whose sentencing was delayed again today, suggesting that he's still speaking, known for his ties to both Putin and the Turks is hired not despite that but because of that. Today was the day in which anyone still supporting this administration, including the Republicans on the Hill has to face the fact that corruption is the feature.

And they -- you know, of this White House and of this campaign. And it cannot be dismissed. That's how you put all the pieces today together.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, you know, you guys are raring to go to talk about this, and two of you at least came off of a vacation to discuss, because you thought this was a monumental day. Harry, I'm going to bring you in next. So 8 serious guilty counts against Paul Manafort and 10 counts, they couldn't reach a verdict. What do you think of the results and what do you think about the day?

HARRY LITMAN, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UCSD: Well, you know, the first thing I want to say about the day is there's just this overall buoyant feeling that it gives. You have this extremely frustrating months and months, where it seems like very serious allegations that objective person would credit have come to the fore, and they are just ignored or completely lied about by team Trump.

And to have a part of the political system, after all, the courts work right, get the truth right, just is a huge breath of fresh air for starters. So it's just this, ah, finally, you know, things are -- some system is working the way it's supposed to. And the actual facts, I think as Juliette says, it is hard to overstate. It's very bad news all around.

I will just second her point about Flynn, because I think Flynn has already told Mueller everything he has to know, and the reason his sentencing, I think, is delayed is because there are probably more cases that Mueller wants to bring than he'll need Flynn for. Not information, but we could actually expect more cases coming, and then of course, there is the Manafort trial number two.

[22:44:55] Other shoes left to drop, but just the overall sense that maybe there's some sanity being restored to this nightmarish situation is, I think, the takeaway feeling.

LEMON: And not to leave Nancy out. Nancy, let's bring you in now. But before you respond, I want you to play President Trump's reaction to the verdict today and then get you to respond. So here it is.


PRES. DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: 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. It's a witch hunt, and it's a disgrace. This has nothing to do what. They started out.

It was not the original mission, believe me. It was -- it was something very much different, so it had nothing to do with Russian collusion.


LEMON: Convicted. Manafort was convicted, Nancy, on eight very serious charges, yet the President can't even admit that he did some bad things. He's totally undermining, trying to undermine this Mueller investigation NANCY GERTNER, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: You just want to roll

back for a moment. I mean if you recall Manafort starts being investigated -- actually not because of Trump or anything like that. He's kicked out of the campaign when undisclosed payments that he received from Ukrainian oligarchs surfaced, and then he's kicked out of the campaign.

At that point, he winds up in the Russian investigation, because as Mueller rightly pointed out, they were trying to follow the money. And that is to say Manafort got a whole pile of money from his Ukrainian activities, sent it back to the U.S., it went to these various offshore accounts, and Mueller entirely legitimately says where else did it go?

Where else did this money from Russian sources land? So the -- while the conviction was not on those kinds of issues, actually the Washington case maybe much more directly on that, but it was completely legitimate for Mueller to follow the money as he did, and Manafort by the way, is facing an enormous uphill battle. I don't know all the details of any appellate issues.

But this was not a judge that was against Manafort. This was a judge that was helping him every step of the way. So if -- I can't imagine what appellate grounds there are. It's also very interesting that Kevin Downing, in front of the courthouse, doesn't say, as many defense lawyers would say, we are going to appeal. He says we're going to consider our options.

LEMON: Our options, right.

GERTNER: I thought that was an interesting statement.

LEMON: Yeah. As I understand, Harry, you have your own ideas about conviction or prosecution versus non-prosecution when it comes to the President, indicting versus non-indicting. We're going to hear that right after the break. Don't go anywhere.


[22:50:00] LEMON: Back with Juliette, Harry, and Nancy. So Harry, sitting President, can or cannot be indicted. What's the deal?

LITMAN: OK. Well, first, everyone has pointed to these policy opinions. They are, as Jack Quinn said, fairly soft, not very well- argued, but probably Mueller would stick to them, except I think there -- and this is to pick up on something that Larry said in the previous segment. There's a possibility that Mueller could go to Trump and demand that he told the statute of limitations.

And say have to permit that to happen so you could be indicted after. And if Trump refuses, the argument would be much stronger for indictment now, possibly sealing it. I think that's a possible arrow in his quiver. And I just want to point out that sort of as Jack said, you know, this -- Trump says nothing to do with collusion.

But this is hardly some stray financial crime from many years ago. This is a down the middle kind of high crime and misdemeanor of the sort that the framers would care about. This is corruption of and influence of the election. And it really does seriously implicate the exact kinds of concerns that we have impeachment for.

LEMON: What is this verdict?


GERTNER: When you compare it to what Clinton got impeached for, so perjury, terrible thing to do in a civil case, for which he is impeached, whereas this is directly having to do with his own election.

LEMON: So what does this all mean? What does this verdict in Paul Manafort mean for President Trump and the Russia investigation? Nancy, you're speaking. I'll let you finish and then I'll go to Juliette. What do you think?

GERTNER: Well, I mean, the sort of crass way of looking at it is Manafort is facing a substantial amount of time. The estimates were seven to nine years. The judge could go higher or lower than that, but this is just on this case. Then the case in D.C. would follow, and he's facing a substantial amount of time. The question is whether he makes the calculation that it is better to cooperate with the authorities than it is, you know, take his kind of time.

And that's for (Inaudible) all sorts of direction. But I think that's one issue here. What will he give the -- what kind of truthful information will he give Mueller.

LEMON: Does this verdict prompt Manafort to cooperate with Mueller, Juliette?

KAYYEM: I actually don't know, Don. Because I had predicted that he would have done this before the first trial, and he didn't. And maybe he was gambling or hoping for a hung jury. He got part of it, but he got convicted for a long period...


LEMON: OK. All right, I got you.


LEMON: You're not sure. OK, so you don't know what it means. So let me ask you this, then.


LEMON: What about Flynn.


LEMON: What about Flynn's sentencing here being delayed?

(CROSSTALK) [22:55:01] KAYYEM: As I said, I think this is -- I think that is a -- sort of the -- you know, there's so much noise today, but let's not forget Flynn. Flynn, being one of the first to flip so to speak, he's been speaking for over a year. We don't know exactly what he's saying, but we do know that Mueller is lining up potentially other cases. There are people we're not talking about today, who have been implicated or at least are surrounding these atmospherics, especially regarding the Trump Tower meeting, Jared, Don Jr., and others.

So we don't know -- so Flynn is being kept on reserve. And so, you know, so this is a, you know, as Harry was saying, you know, maybe you kind of feel like the system worked today a little bit. But I actually view this as -- in disaster management, we often say when the waters recede, run for the hills. That's a statement about tsunamis that actually the water is receding.

It's not something to look forward to. It is actually that something is gaining strength. And I actually feel like today while -- it may be -- you know, justice may have been served and maybe the system had worked a little bit. I think between Manafort's second trial, Flynn and other cases. And then, of course, let's not forget Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, is mentioned four times in the Steele Dossier.

So he's not just about sex and porn stars. Michael Cohen is implicated in the Russia case. I think there's more water to come. And I think we hold on.

LEMON: That's got to be the last word. By the way, Michael Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, coming up, also Stormy Daniels' Attorney, Michael Avenatti coming up as well. What do they think of all this? We'll be right back. Thank you, guys.