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War-Torn Korean Families Bid Their Final Goodbyes; Pope Francis to Meet with Abuse Victims in Ireland; A Disastrous Day for Trump and Two Former Aides; Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft Remove Malicious Content; Source: White House Staff "Stunned", "Rattled"; How Iran Really Views the U.S. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 22, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:10] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, though, once among those closest to the president. But now, his former campaign chairman, as well as his personal attorney among those on the dizzying roundabout from Trump orbit to possible jail time.

As far as the president is concerned, he barely knew them and in front of the cheering crowd toward the special prosecutor, to find any collusion with Russia.

Amid a growing child sex scandal, Pope Francis has now agreed to meet with survivors of clergy abuse when he travels to Ireland this weekend.

Hello everybody, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, this is NEWSROOM, L.A.

Donald Trump once famously promised to surround himself with only the brightest. He would hire only the best. But now, two of his best has been a senior aide are now convicted felons facing years behind bars.

His former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen implicated the president when he pleaded guilty to violations of campaign finance laws. And a jury in Virginia found Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, guilty of eight criminal charges, including bank and tax fraud.

President Trump called that verdict a disgraced. Describe Manafort as a good man.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE 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. It's a witch hunt and it's a disgrace.

This has nothing to do with what they started out, looking for Russians involvement in our campaign, there were none.


VAUSE: Northerly, the president's made no mention of Michael Cohen on Tuesday. But the man who once says you take a bullet for the president now appears to open a new front of legal problems for the White House. CNN's Brynn Gingras reports.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michael Cohen implicating President Trump, as he pleads guilty to eight charges of tax evasion and violating campaign finance laws.

ROBERT KHUZAMI, DEPUTY UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: These are very serious charges and reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over an extended period of time.

GINGRAS: Though not mentioning either by name, it was clear through evidence and the dollar amounts that Cohen was referring to payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal when pleading guilty to the campaign finance violations.

He also didn't mention Trump by name, but said to the judge that payment regarding McDougal was, "For the principal purpose of influencing the election."

Cohen also said in court that he kept information from becoming public, "In coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office."

CNN has reached out to the president's personal attorneys for comment, the White House declined to comment. Cohen is facing 65 years in prison. He posted a $500,000 bond and will face sentencing on December 12.

Cohen is not required to cooperate with the government as part of his plea agreement according to one source. The president's attorney turned fixer has been under federal investigation for months. Authorities have been looking into his business dealings including $20 million in loans involving his taxi business. Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: I'd take a very close lookout all the legal issues which are confronting Cohen and Manafort, as well, as the president, the CNN's legal analyst and civil rights attorney Areva Martin. Also with us, criminal defense attorney David Katz, also former U.S. attorney for Los Angeles. So, good have you both with us. Thank you.

OK. So, we have two separate trials here, two separate issues. You know, the former White House Counsel over President Barack Obama, Bob Bauer, he wrote this. "The Cohen campaign-finance plea resonates unmistakably with the special counsel investigation, which also concerns what a candidate is prepared to do to win an election. And then, cover his tracks."

So, David, first to you. How do you see these two cases intersecting if you do a Venn diagram and your Manafort was one circle and Cohen was the other, what would be the stuff in the middle?

DAVID KATZ, FORMER ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, LOS ANGELES: Well, I think one thing that's very significant is the same thing happened to Nixon. Nixon had both his campaign manager and also had his Mr. Fixit, both of them pled guilty.

And that's a terrible bunch of circumstances for the president. And it's not circumstances that God brought upon him. This was the man that he chose to be his campaign manager for six months at a critical time when he was getting the nomination and launching his campaign against Hillary Clinton. And it was also the person he chose Michael Cohen, to be his fixer for years and years.

Known as his attack dog, his go-to guy. You know, what did he do? He -- you know, he threatened attorneys with lawsuits, he threatened other people with lawsuits. And so, all of this is stuff that could really come back to hurt the president, and there's no way that he can silence Cohen.

Even with a pardon, Cohen would still have the prospect of state prosecution and the fact that he's made a plea agreement right now which we stick his time to four to five years, doesn't mean that his fate is to settle for four or five years. He may very well be looking to cooperate down the road, maybe not that far down the road, and to give testimony and evidence against President Trump.

On top of that, his office was searched as you may recall.

[01:05:48] VAUSE: Right. Yes.

KATZ: As to some of that attorney-client material, Giuliani waived attorney-client privilege and put evidence on a -- on a platter, on a silver platter for Mueller.

VAUSE: Everybody, I just want to talk about -- you know, this deal which Cohen has cut. When you cut a deal that ends with four to five years in jail, how bad were the circumstances that you are facing in the first place?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the circumstances were pretty bad. One of the things that we saw happened today in federal court is the prosecutors had to lay out for the judge the evidence that they had with respect to each count, to prove to the judges they had sufficient evidence beyond reasonable doubt, to prove the charges that they were bringing.

So, this wasn't speculation on the part of the prosecutors, they have documentary evidence from the raid of his home and his office. They have apparently, some tape recordings, we know Michael Cohen like to tape people.

VAUSE: Do we have (INAUDIBLE). MARTIN: And apparently, there are more tapes than even the ones that we heard. There were text messages and there was evidence to support each and every one of the eight counts that were brought forward today in federal court.

VAUSE: You know, what was interesting is here when -- David, when Cohen said in court that he was essentially directed by a candidate for federal office to violate campaign finance laws who is such of paying at hush money to two women who claimed extramarital affairs with Donald Trump, years before he ran for president.

If Donald Trump had not won the presidency if he was just now Donald Trump former Republican nominee had gone back. And this trial had moved forward, what would happen to Donald Trump?

KATZ: I think, logically -- you know, I was assistant United States attorney in the Reagan administration. And this idea that it's a witch hunt is just malarkey. He would have been an indicted co- conspirator. They would have indicted Trump as the one who engineered this campaign finance violation.

The same thing happened to John Edwards, we were talking about that who ran against President Obama in 2008. He ended up getting charged with a campaign violation. It's against the law. People act like, "Oh, it's small potatoes." No, it's against the law. It is part of the campaign finance to keep elections honest and to make sure even more money doesn't pour into them without proper reporting.

This was an attempt to not report the hundreds of thousands of dollars that went actually I believe right before the election.


KATZ: It was actually in 2016 that it went to Stormy Daniels.

VAUSE: The timing is very interesting.


KATZ: And it went to the Playboy model. He admitted -- Michael Cohen admitted in court today that it was not only direction of the president, but it was with the aim of making sure that he was not embarrassed in the election itself which is the necessary element that you need to prove, and one of the hardest ones to prove, and the one that Michael Cohen admitted that he and the president both did.

Now, Michael Cohen may not be telling the truth. Again, as he said, there's lots of documents and evidence to back him up. But you know, I'm a criminal defense attorney now. That's my stock in trade is to cross-examine people and to try to show that they're not telling the truth.

But it looked very bad for the president, he'd be in a conspiracy with Michael Cohen, and if he weren't the president.

VAUSE: And Areva, you -- with regards to Paul Manafort trial, there was little speculation beforehand that Robert Mueller, the special counsel needed this guilty verdict, he needed a win. Basically, to shield himself from political inference from the president.

MARTIN: Yes, and not only did he get a win, he got a very big wind. You know, Donald Trump for the last year and a half have really made disparaging remarks about the special counsel. He's called the investigation a witch-hunt, he's called it a hoax. He's tried to delegitimizing at every opportunity, including tonight in the rally in West Virginia.

But this wind today, these eight convictions that the Mueller team got really -- you know, undermines any notion that they are on a witch- hunt. And when you think about it, was just May of 2017 when the special counsel was appointed.

And in that short period of time, we now have this trial. Well, Mueller, that's been a mistrial for Manafort that's been completed.


VAUSE: As you let me show you the verdict. Let's look at -- let's look at Mueller's scorecard here.


VAUSE: Because he's racked up five guilty pleas, 32 indicted individuals, 187 charges related to Russia's interference in the 2016 election. So that's not a bad quest.

MARTIN: It was just from May of 2017, and from all indication, he's not done yet. One of the things that was significant about Michael today was they talk about direction of -- you know, this candidate, but also implicating other members of the -- of the Trump campaign team.

So, it's not clear that -- you know, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and other individuals in the campaign may be brought into this. We may see other indictments coming from the special counsel's office.

[01:10:13] VAUSE: I want to get -- I skipped forward to the issue of whether or not the president could be indicted. Because someone saying that he's basically an unindicted co-conspirator in orbit name.

So, much of the legal reasoning why he cannot be indicted is based on a 21-year-old Law Review article which says, "Any destruction of the president from his duties is much more significant than similar distractions of those other, prosecutable officials, and has a much bigger impact on the well-being of the nation and all of its people."

So, David, why is it that, that argument seems to be the pervasive ones here?

KATZ: Well, for once, I agree with Ken Starr. When Ken Starr was the special prosecutor, he said that Clinton could be indicted. And that he --


VAUSE: You don't agree at this what law review at odd?

KATZ: I don't agree with that law review article, because the idea that the president is going to be so inconvenienced by criminal interrogation or criminal indictment. If he's guilty, he ought to be indicted, he ought to be investigated, he shouldn't remain the president.

And if you look at American history, Spiro Agnew was the vice president. He was removed from office and the nation went on. Gerald Ford replaced him, was a great vice president in my opinion, and the nation went on.

Aaron Burr when he was the vice president was indicted for the Alexander Hamilton duel, had to stay out of New York City. And he was indicted when he was the vice president. So, the idea of the president and vice president cannot be indicted is something that I think, it's smart for Mueller to take that view because I think, Mueller would be fired immediately if he took any other view.

But I don't agree that legally that sound. I'm with Ken Starr and Brett Kavanaugh on this one,

MARTIN: And one thing I want to just say is the Rosenstein -- you know, that the charge given to Mueller from Rosenstein is to investigate and prosecute.

So, it's not clear to me that even Rosenstein believed that the president was -- you know, beyond prosecution in the event that the evidence will lead -- you know, the special prosecutors to -- you know, crime. A criminal activity on the part of the president.

VAUSE: Now that -- you know, they've got this conviction and you got Manafort was going to jail and there's a likelihood that Cohen could, in fact, flip. Does Robert Mueller, the special counsel -- does he need to sit down for an interview with Trump?

David, all that, if you've got the lawyer from the president, basically telling you everything you need to know -- you know, as the Robert Nixon's found out -- Richard Nixon as I should say. That's a bad place to be with the lawyers that you know, saying all.

KATZ: Well, Giuliani is in a terrible position. That's why I think he's pretty much abdicated his role as an advocate and has just become sort of part of the sideshow of saying something anything to satisfy the base and try to distract from what the real legal issues are.

But the fact that the White House Counsel needed to hire counsel, people need to get their heads around that. And it's clear that he thought that Trump was going to throw him under the bus. Just like John Dean was worried years ago that Nixon was going to throw him under the bus.

VAUSE: Much as Michael Cohen was worried that Trump is going to throw -- (CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Oh, absolutely.

VAUSE: Very quickly. The president is also facing legal troubles by the civil suit for by Stormy Daniels. You know, from start he claims that she was defamed by the president. Now her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, he's smelling blood. This is what he said to CNN.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER OF STORMY DANIELS: The president is in a lot of trouble, Wolf, and we're coming for him. I'm telling you flat out, we're going to come for him, we're going to get this deposition. You know, the president has created an alternative universe on many, many fronts.

He thinks that he can lie, lie his way out of situations and create this universe and everyone else is going to live in it. Well, guess what, that alternative universe sooner or later is going to come crumbling down, and I think we're on the precipice of that happening.


VAUSE: So, how does all this help Avenatti?

MARTIN: Well, it helps him a great deal because one of the issues was the stain of the civil lawsuit to see what was going to happen with respect to -- you know, whether Michael Cohen would be indicted or not.

So, now that there is been the charge and there is been the plea agreement, Michael Avenatti can go back into civil court in California, say, Look, your honor, you know, this is what has already happened in this criminal case.

There is no longer a reason for this civil case to be stayed and we should be able to move forward with our discovery including getting the deposition of the president in Michael Cohen. And causing them to have to answer questions under oath which is what Michael Avenatti ultimately wants.

And he wants the videotape, those depositions and he wants to come on CNN and every other channel, and play those videotape.


VAUSE: Everyone knows about it. And anyone (INAUDIBLE) the president -- I think.

MARTIN: That he is going to kick Donald Trump out of the White House and be the next president of the United States. So, that's in his world. So --


VAUSE: Donald Trump is creating a lot of work for lawyers in Washington if nothing else. A lot of job.

MARTIN: He's keeping lawyers employed, absolutely. So, thank you, Mr. President.

VAUSE: Exactly.

KATZ: And he's also made federal judges look great because they are the jewel of our system, maybe Congress hasn't looked very well as a check and balance, but the federal judiciary has looked terrific.

VAUSE: Yes, which is a good point.

MARTIN: And put also the jurors. You know, Donald Trump would they now a great job that the jurors did in the Paul Manafort case.


VAUSE: I know (INAUDIBLE) because it was like (INAUDIBLE) against the judge and no -- yes, yes.

MARTIN: But we have to give -- you know, jurors and jury service a lot of credit.

VAUSE: Yes. Because no one wants to do it. Areva and David, thank you very much.

MARTIN: Thanks, John.

[01:14:57] VAUSE: Well, still to come, all this day was described as the worst day ever for the Trump presidency. It seems almost certain there will be worse days to come. A closer look at the political fallout for a White House already under siege.


VAUSE: Well, at the White House, staffers are said to be stunned by this avalanche of bad news during Donald Trump's former lawyer and his former campaign chairman. A source says, there were high hopes inside the West Wing for a mistrial in Paul Manafort's tax and bank fraud case.

But the jury said it was deadlocked on one of the counts, but those hopes were soon dashed when Manafort was found guilty of eight financial crimes. Then, to make that it's worse, there was Michael Cohen's plea deal which apparently caught staff as totally off guard, including the president.

Well, join me now for more CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson, and California Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel. Thank you for coming back guys, appreciate it.


VAUSE: Little all the reporting that we gained from Jim Acosta, the president's favorite White House reporter. He tells us, "A source close to the White House says -- you know, they had this hopes for a favorable verdict to the Manafort case. And they then, plan to attack the Mueller investigation in the event of a mistrial or not guilty verdict.

The plan was to attack the Mueller investigation if Manafort case had gone their way. As for Michael Cohen, the source said the White House was initially planning to push the argument that the Cohen case was about his taxi cab business dealings, something that obviously no longer works."

So, Shawn, it seems in many ways the walls are now closing in on the president. So, what's the strategy now?

STEEL: I think only about five percent of the country actually believes that. 95 percent of the --


VAUSE: You don't think the world's closing in?

STEEL: No, definitely not.


STEEL: First of all, you got to low class characters. One had a marginal effort in the -- in the presidential campaign. Paul Manafort, he was there for four months. Hardly ever saw my was -- I was like -- you know, at the Republican National Convention, I'm a sergeant of arms, I kind of know who's coming and going.

Cohen is somebody nobody ever met. He's been with Trump, I guess for years, and years, and he was kind of the behind-the-scenes below the radar guy. And apparently, neither one of them like paying taxes. So, it was a tax trial, all --

VAUSE: It might be (INAUDIBLE) about the president, we never seen his tax remittance.

STEEL: All the -- 90 -- no, no, 90 percent of the charges against were on tax fraud. They don't like paying, they made a lot of money they didn't want to report it. A lot of Democrats do that too, too common everyday occurrence.

But on the political ramifications, the left is desperately looking for something. But after the Mollie -- but after Mollie's death, that's a whole other consideration.


VAUSE: OK, well, talk about that a moment. Let's get -- let's get the (INAUDIBLE), Dave, as a Democrat? What's your take?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The magnitude of both of these stories could not be understated. It is extraordinary. That the bombshells for the one-two punch that came out today was a game- changer.

Bottom line, Paul Manafort, I know you want to deflect but the reality is he served in the Trump campaign in a high-ranking position for six months plus. He was campaign manager and chief strategist ultimately consolidating the Republican nomination for Donald Trump propelling him to the general election, he was a big deal in the campaign.

I know the Trump folks and their cronies like to minimize his role in that campaign. But it was a big deal, number one. Number two, Michael Cohen was Donald Trump's fixer. Nobody arguably was closer to Donald Trump in the Trump Organization than Melania, than Jared. Michael Cohen, he says perhaps, Melania.

VAUSE: Donald Trump ridiculed Michael Cohen's son's bar mitzvah, and turned up laying complain. But he was still at the bar mitzvah, I mean, you know, that's how close these guys were.


STEEL: I'm sure I was the cast of thousands. Look, here's a real story. Don McGahn is the president's real lawyer. He's the one has been in the White -- he's the -- he's the one and --


VAUSE: Right. Well actually, Don McGahn is a White House counsel, he is not Donald Trump's lawyer.

STEEL: I understand that Trump has -- Trump has had hundreds of lawyers over his quarter, hundreds.

VAUSE: Right.

STEEL: And, many, many big law firms. McGahn has spent on the president's authority permission and waiver, spent 30 hours with special counsel, had -- and I know McGahn.


VAUSE: Yes. Kind of (INAUDIBLE) that too.

STEEL: Unlike anybody else at this table, he's an honorable person. And if there's anything illegal going on, in the White House before trance, and he was in the campaign, he would have resigned.

VAUSE: OK, well --

STEEL: There's no story there but -- you know, you can pretend that there is, but there isn't.

VAUSE: OK, Alice out to these court cases and their verdicts the president travel to West Virginia for this campaign rally. And you know, he touched on the old themes and all of the old favorites like century cities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: The Democrats want to turn America into one big fat sanctuary city for criminal aliens. And honestly, honestly, they're more protective of aliens, the criminal aliens than they are of the people.


VAUSE: And then, of course, don't forget the wall, the great big wall that Mexico is not going to pay for.


TRUMP: And by the way, the wall, right now, that wall is coming along. We're over $3 billion, it's moving along very nicely -- very nicely. And if you think it's easy with these people, it's not easy.


VAUSE: And then, of course, how about all those Supreme Court judges, all those conservative appointments, and nominees?


TRUMP: And how do you like the judges that I've been appointing? Justice Kavanaugh, Justice Gorsuch, Supreme Court. There's no worse nightmare for West Virginia this November, than Chuck Schumer running the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi, with Maxine Waters running the House. And that is why you must vote Republican --


VAUSE: I mean, Dave, it really was it was a pissed-off, right? But is this how it's going to be? Is this it expect all this stuff, the cultural wedge stuff for Trump to basically divert from attention -- to the attention for this?

JACOBSON: Precisely. I mean, look, Donald Trump's strategists and campaign advisors in his inner orbit have said he's going to campaign approximately about 40 days out of the next 77 days before the elections.

VAUSE: Right.

JACOBSON: So, I think this is a preview of what we're going to see, and he's doubling down on the tribalism strategy. He's in West Virginia. That is a state that he won overwhelmingly. And I think, that speaks volumes to his status with swing voters, independent voters that ultimately -- you know, swung the election to him in a lot of these key historically Democratic states.

But, I think it underscores the fact that they're not with him right now that's why he's in West Virginia.

VAUSE: You know, remember that moment, that promise, or that there's all the famous promises that Donald Trump made during the campaign? Here it is.


TRUMP: When it comes to Washington, D.C. it is time to drain the damn swamp.


VAUSE: Shawn, how's that draining the swamp working out here your manga, what is it making a risk weight again, something?

STEEL: Well, you know, if Manafort was friend with Hillary, he would've been charged with anything. Obviously, that's the problem with the corrupted Department of Justice created by Obama. But what's number one issue in America? Is it Manafort? No, it's not even in the top 100. Cohen? He's not even in the top 1,000. It's immigration, its illegal aliens.

Its illegal aliens killing American citizens. That's the driving issue, that's the number one issue. And even my Democrat consultant for -- immigration is number one.


JACOBSON: And the fact is --

STEEL: Look, immigration is number one --

JACOBSON: But I think its families being separated. Children ripping -- they departing their parent. Many of which are still separated

STEEL: No, no, you're right, you're right. No, no, I'm surprised I can agree with you. Mollie Tibbetts has ripped away from her family. She's dead forevermore by an illegal alien in America for seven years.


VAUSE: She has aspects that Mollie Tibbetts was a (INAUDIBLE) Mollie Tibbetts was -- she was a college student Iowa, who is believed she would missing, it's believed the body's been found, and an undocumented immigrant has been charged.


[01:25:08] STEEL: The illegal alien is what the law says.

VAUSE: So, an undocumented immigrant. But, anyway, look -- you know, and the prison has seized on that -- you know. And again, it sees all the cynical. But you know, Dave, this is an administration which basically be opposed to drain the swamp in April and infinity pool instead.

JACOBSON: Yes, Scott Pruitt is the perfect crime example. Michael Flynn, I mean, Tom Price.

VAUSE: Just goes on.

JACOBSON: Yes, the folks that he surrounds himself with, week of corruption and lies. Just like him, I mean, the bottom line is we've never seen an administration so corrupt. Look at the two members of Congress. The first two members of Congress to endorsing. Duncan Hunter today who was indicted because he spent $250,000 of campaign money on living a luxurious life and Chris Collins of the New York --


STEEL: And getting dental work.

JACOBSON: And getting dental work, right. But the two first members of the House of Representatives who endorsed Donald Trump along with all these cabinet administration officials. But I think that --

STEEL: Out of fairness, Keith Ellison who is the DNC co-chairman who the U.S. congressman is now of charge of sexual harassment.

VAUSE: OK, OK, Steel, Steel.

STEEL: But Corrine Brown, who is a Democrat congresswoman who is now in jail because she had a phony charity. Democrat Congresswoman, remember her, from Florida. She was raising a hundred thousand for a charity when she kept the money for herself.

How about Jesse Jackson Jr. he's in jail.


VAUSE: That was a years' ago. I mean, few years ago.

STEEL: Jesse Jackson Jr., the Democrats. Well, the least, Democrat Hammerson that are in jail.

VAUSE: Look, this is the (INAUDIBLE) this is social we should look. What happened, that a few years ago? I mean, I can go through the Republican list, as well. This is a Republican unless were a lot longer.

STEEL: What's he tell us?

VAUSE: The bottom line is -- the bottom line is that Donald Trump employs all of these people, right? And at the time this is the best and greatest Omarosa, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, you know, Paul Manafort.

STEEL: They're mostly good. 95 percent good. Mike Pompeo, a very good boss.

VAUSE: All these people get employed by Donald Trump, they're amazing but then, when they get caught with you're doing something wrong and get convicted or plead guilty, they're the worst rotten -- dirty rotten life we ever met. But he hires them in the --

STEEL: Not true. Who? Who? Two of them in the first place. You're talking about two. You know, what is this? --

(CROSSTALK) VAUSE: At one point, Jared Kushner will be a guy dated his daughter.

STEEL: You're making --

JACOBSON: Yes, Richard Gates, George Papadopoulos. I mean, the list is on and on. Come on.

STEEL: These are -- these are -- you know, Papadopoulos are hardly did anything was in a bar in (INAUDIBLE).

VAUSE: So he's got to be sentenced.

STEEL: When the -- when the -- when the Department of Justice gets on your case and you have no money. And you're looking at a long period of time because you don't have the resources, that's what -- that's what terrorism comes from the Justice Department.


VAUSE: You know like something all about (INAUDIBLE) all of his the presidency that suddenly their lives and their careers are ruined.

STEEL: No, let me tell you, the last person last thing you ever want to see in your life is Department of Justice going after you or anyone. It is a -- it's a life-changing experience.

JACOBSON: Who says prevent that?

STEEL: Don't break the law.

JACOBSON: Yes, I know.

VAUSE: Here you go.

STEEL: Unless you're friends with Hillary or Bill Clinton. Either one, you get a free ride.

JACOBSON: Neither, they have been indicted on anything.

STEEL: I know that, and that's the point.

JACOBSON: All the Donald Trump say that.

STEEL: The hundreds of millions of dollars, Bill Clinton raise to her phony foundation, and the Russian money that came into his foundation, and no indictment? Explain that to me.

VAUSE: He got even do anything wrong. I would imagine, I mean, there's me what my aim inquiries into the closes over the years and they've had plenty of cracks.

STEEL: Politics are fixed in Washington and its changing. You know what, most Americans don't like it. And they don't buy it, and that's why Manafort's relatively not very politically. Good luck.

VAUSE: OK. Well, find out. Was it 79 days to the midterms? JACOBSON: 37.

VAUSE: 37. OK, we'll find out. Shortly, thank you.

STEEL: He keep on wrong about that at 80 days. Gambling, very (INAUDIBLE). I wish it with -- I'm glad Ross, I think.

VAUSE: OK, thank you. OK, well, still to come here, they waited nearly seven decades to be reunited with their loved ones and have Korean families are forced to separate yet again.

And a week after a scathing grand jury report. A new case of abuse involving of Pennsylvania priests in a teenage girl.


[01:31:05] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

Donald Trump's former lawyer admits he has broken campaign finance laws back in 2016 and that then-candidate Trump directed him to do so. Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts including bank and tax fraud. He arranged payments to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with Donald Trump.

And the President's former campaign chairman has been found guilty of bank and tax fraud. A jury convicted Paul Manafort on eight counts, but couldn't reach a verdict on 10 others. Prosecutors have a week to decide if they want to retry him on those 10 charges.

The Trump administration will now let states set their own carbon emissions standards with coal-fueled power plants. Environmental and medical groups say the move will be bad for Americans' health and even the agency backing the plan admits the extra (ph) pollution could lead to as many as 1,400 more premature deaths a year by 2030.

Well, after briefly uniting in North Korea, 89 families separated by war now have to say goodbye to their loved ones. And that will probably be the last time they see each other. They spent 12 hours together over the past three days, not nearly long enough to make up for almost seven decades apart.

And soon their South Korean relatives will have to return home. Thousands of others are still hoping to live long enough to see their relatives after a lifetime apart.

Paula Hancocks, live with us now in Sokcho, South Korea. This is such a sad day today. I guess the question now is, looking forward, is there any chance that, you know, this arrange could change in some way so that families get more access?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is certainly the hope -- John. I mean this is the heartbreaking moment. The families have already parted. You have 89 South Korean families heading now back here to South Korea, having said goodbye to their relatives, knowing that is likely the last time they'll see them. They will be here in Sokcho in just a few hours time.

And it's definitely the most heartbreaking time of this entire family reunion. There was such excitement just a couple of days ago as they were leaving here. The anticipation of seeing loved ones that they have not seen in decades.

But looking forward, this is what the South Korean president, the Moon Jae-in is trying to do. He made a speech to his chief advisers meeting, saying that as a separated family himself, as someone who is part of these family reunions in the past, he said it is a matter of shame for both the North and the South Korean governments saying that he is going to make it his top priority from a humanitarian point of view.

The U.N. Secretary-General is saying that that he wants to see more reunions. You also have the head of the Red Cross when we spoke to him he said that he's actually talking to his North Korean counterpart. He said he will be spending five days over this week with his North Korean counterpart trying to convince him to convince those in charge in North Korea to allow more of these humanitarian gestures because time is running out.

These are elderly people -- the vast majority in their 80s and 90s and 57,000 people in South Korea still want to be part of one of these reunions -- John.

VAUSE: I guess right now, while the relations are warming between North and South, that is why the family reunions are back on. But once those relations sour, you know, as we've seen in the past that is when these family reunions are canceled.

I guess that is what is most difficult for these families, is knowing that they are essentially at the whim of Pyongyang when it comes to the chance of seeing their relatives.

HANCOCKS: That's right. They have absolutely no control over their own destinies when it comes to reconnecting with loved ones. We have been following a 92-year-old woman who last saw her son when he was four. She has managed to reconnect with him. She has seen him for the first time in decades.

But then in a few hours time she will be getting off a bus here knowing that that is it, that she won't have that contact in the future. Although the Red Cross said they are trying to push for at least letters or phone calls, or some kind of follow-up after these reunions.

[01:35:05] But it is up to North Korea. If it was up to South Korea, these could take place on a number of occasions. They would like to see more of them. The past three years there has been nothing. There has been none of these kind of connections between separated families because the last few years is when North Korea has really been pushing ahead with its nuclear and missile testing. Relations between the two Koreas would die. And so it is necessary, it is essential for North and South Korea to be getting on for this to even be considered -- John.

VAUSE: Yes. The harsh reality here is that it is a compelling reason to try and maintain diplomatic relations with the North, I guess.

Paula -- thank you. Appreciate your coverage.

A Catholic priest in Pennsylvania is facing charges of indecent assault and corruption of a minor. Officials say Father Kevin Lonergan sent sexual messages and nude images to a 17-year-old girl on social media. He is accused of hugging the girl while aroused, and grabbing her while she tried to pull away.

The diocese says it has cooperated with the district attorney and immediately removed Lonergan him from his assignment. The clergy in Pennsylvania are under scrutiny after an investigation found more than 300 priests had sexually abused more than a thousand children for decades.

In just a few days, Pope Francis will visit Ireland and he'll meet with victims of clerical sex abuse. The Pope is under increasing pressure to do something about decades of abuse and cover-ups. The victims are demanding more than just words.

Here's Barbie Nadeau reporting from Rome.


BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The Vatican announced on Tuesday that Pope Francis will be meeting with victims of clerical sex abuse when he travels to Ireland this coming weekend. It is not unusual for the Pope to meet with victims of clerical sex abuse, but it is unusual that the Vatican would make this announcement ahead of time.

Instead the Pope usually holds these meetings behind closed doors and the victims announce that they met with the Pope. The Vatican did say that it would not be commenting on what was said between the Pope and those victims.

The church in Ireland, of course, has its own history of scandal with clerical sex abuse and widespread abuse. In 2009, a scathing report pointed to the fact that over 30,000 children had been abused over the course of many decades in Ireland by Catholic Church officials.

This announcement comes on the heels of the Pennsylvania grand jury report outlining over 70 years of clerical sex abuse carried out by more than 300 priests on over 1000 children. The Vatican responded to those allegations with a statement, calling them criminal and calling for accountability.

Then Pope Francis this week followed that up with a letter to the people of God, in which he apologized for the sins of the church, and called on church leaders to avoid creating a community where it would be easy to hide such abuse. The victims of clerical sex abuse want more than words. They have called on Pope Francis to ask for resignations from complicit bishops and cardinals, and they would like to see any of the secret documents about clerical sex abuse held in churches around the world be released to secular authorities.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN -- Rome.


VAUSE: Still to come here, ahead of the U.S. midterm elections -- Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft are cracking down on malicious content and they discovered this problem goes all the way back, yes, to Russia. But this time, they also have a friend.


VAUSE: This has been a day in us politics without parallel -- two legal dramas in courtrooms 300 miles apart. In one, Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud; while, in the other, a plea agreement saw the President's longtime personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to campaign-finance violations, as well as bank and tax fraud -- both playing out in real time in a surreal split screen moment.

On their own, either case would have a devastating impact on any White House. But together, it's hard to imagine the legal and political implications now facing the President and those closest to him.

For more, former ethics czar for the Obama administration Norm Eisen is with us now from Washington. Norm -- what a day.

Have you seen anything like this before? And if you look at just what has happened over the course of the presidency, from the national security advisor pleading guilty to lying to the FBI and now assisting the special counsel all up to the people who have been found guilty or have pleaded guilty to certain crimes -- what does it say about the culture of this administration? And what does it say about the President?

NORMAN EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What it says about the President is that he is surrounded by a miasma of corruption. We predicted when he started violating norms and ethics rules that this day was going to come and it has.

John -- he is like the character Pigpen in the "Peanuts" strip that had that little cloud of dirt hovering over him. There is an overhang of corruption around this president.

It is also a good day though because of accountability. The courts still work. Our rule of law functions. Our democracy is functioning when powerful individuals close to the President can be held accountable like this.

VAUSE: Well, we do have like, it was this legal crescendo, you know. That these two very serious legal cases, coming to a conclusion, almost it within moments of each other.

You know, the President can try and ignore it or call it a witch hunt but, you know, this has an impact. It has a very big impact on the presidency, on the administration. So as someone who has, you know, worked in the White House, how overwhelming is this now, both in political terms and legal terms.

EISEN: Michael Cohen standing up in court and under oath saying that he violated campaign finance law. He interfered with the outcome of an election, at the direction of Donald Trump. So the President is implicated in this criminal conduct as well.

This is an extraordinary moment. You really have to go back to Watergate to find a moment like today.

VAUSE: Ok. So let's talk about Cohen for a bit because you mentioned it -- the President's former personal lawyer, his fixer. He pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law in coordination with, and at the direction of, a candidate for federal office.

But the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, he told CNN 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. That statement by Mr. Giuliani seems to be splitting the thinnest of legal hairs. The reality is here, there are accusations of wrong-doing against the President.

EISEN: That's right. Giuliani was looking at the official papers that were filed but as part of the court proceedings, under oath with the most serious of penalties on the line. He has a plea deal. If he lies, Michael Cohen is going to blow that up and end up going to jail for a much longer period of time and having even more financial losses.

[01:44:55] As a part of those proceedings, Michael Cohen -- the President's Mr. Fix-it -- has said that he committed the crime under the control and direction of the President. So Giuliani is splitting hairs.

Now, you know, we will need to see where this goes. But that is a momentous event, a sad one for the presidency and a dangerous one for Mr. Trump.

VAUSE: You know, we've got a situation now where Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis is also putting his argument forward about, you know, the legal jeopardy which the President may or not face. This is what he tweeted.

"Today, he" -- as in Michael Cohen -- "stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen then why wouldn't it be a crime for Donald Trump?"

Keeping in mind that, you know, Cohen is facing years in jail, so obviously that is significant. But is that statement alone, is that enough to implicate the President? Or is there a need for more evidence? Or is there evidence out there which essentially proves that at this present point in time, the President of the United States is an unindicted co-conspirator.

EISEN: Well, typically the way these prosecutions work, John -- before I was an ethics czar, I was a criminal defense lawyer for two decades. And when you have a liar and a criminal like Michael Cohen, you always want corroborating evidence. So you are right to ask -- what corroboration is there?

There may very well be documentary corroboration, financial records, other phone calls, phone records. There may be other evidence out there that would be necessary to proceed against the President. But make no mistake about it -- Michael Cohen's word under oath, having admitted.

He didn't try to justify what he did, unlike Rudy Giuliani, on behalf of his client the President. Michael Cohen admitted that he had done wrong. So his word alone is very, very powerful. The Senate Intelligence Committee has already said they want to hear from him again.

And the President is in peril and this is only the first shoe to drop. If anything was demonstrated today, it is the power of the Department of Justice. And we can expect more developments.

Remember there is an obstruction of justice investigation of the President. There is an investigation of collusion and aiding and abetting of the Russian attack on our elections. So there is much, much more to go here.

VAUSE: We also have a second trial coming up for the former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort which we are told there is a lot more evidence out there from the special prosecutor. And that will deal specifically with Russia, and with possibly, you know, the collusion.

Because we get this argument coming from the Republicans and supporters of the President that essentially, this had nothing to do with Russia. There is nothing out there about collusion.

Like this tweet we had from the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, you know, picking up that Fox News talking point. He said, "Thus far, there have yet been any charges or convictions for colluding with the Russian government by any member of the Trump campaign in the 2016 election." We should at "yet".

But ultimately, you know, that just seems to be almost childish. You know, when you look at the Manafort case, it was barely one step removed from Russia given everything we heard about Manafort's connections to the oligarchs who were close to Putin and all the other evidence that was put forward.

EISEN: That is right -- John. I have written in the "New York Times" a postmortem of the Manafort case, in which we detail all of the times that Russia, Russian collusion, Manafort's connections to that part of the world, including through Ukraine and Ukrainian oligarchs -- this is very much a preface to the collusion investigation.

Mueller hasn't yet gotten to the collusion. He is pivoting to collusion from obstruction. If I were the people most intimately involved in contacts with Russia, with its proxies like WikiLeaks, I'm thinking of people like Don, Jr. who was at the infamous Trump Tower meeting with the Russians; of Roger Stone. I would be very uneasy.

So there is a lot of bluster coming from Team Trump and the Republicans. But I think they're going to face some very choppy waters ahead on obstruction, and on collusion or the legal term "conspiracy".

VAUSE: Standby for some all caps tweets from the President, I imagine, coming out in coming days as he expresses his unhappiness, I guess.

Norm -- thank you so much. Good to see you.

EISEN: John -- always a pleasure.

[01:50:01] The three big tech companies -- Twitter, Facebook, and Microsoft -- have identified and are now removing fake and malicious content.

Twitter announced it removed hundreds of accounts caught engaging in coordination manipulation -- coordinated manipulation, I should say. Working with law enforcement and other companies, it found many of them actually originated from Iran.

Facebook removed 652 pages accounts or groups that it says were part of a coordinated disinformation campaign. Some of the pages also originated from Iran, but also Russia.

Facebook says they were spreading misinformation in the U.S. but also in the U.K., Latin America, and the Middle East while posing as a group called Liberty Front Press.

Meantime Microsoft has taken control of six phony Web sites created by hackers, again tied to Russia, this time military intelligence. The sites were designed to fool users into thinking they belong to two U.S.-based conservative think tanks as well as the U.S. Senate.

It's the latest evidence that Russia's attempts to interfere in U.S. politics did not end with the 2016 presidential election.


BRAD SMITH, PRESIDENT, MICROSOFT: We have no doubt in our or minds that these six Web sites were set up by this group called Strontium or Fancy Bear that is associated with the Russian government. We have no doubt that this in fact, resembles the same pattern of activity we saw the same group pursue in the United States during the 2016 election.

We have no doubt that this is the same group that used the same tactic to attack every single major French presidential candidate last year.


VAUSE: But despite all the overwhelming evidence and all the accusations, the Kremlin continues to deny any knowledge.

For Tehran, the U.S. is the Great Satan. But what about everyday, ordinary Iranians -- what is their opinion of America? CNN's Nick Paton Walsh finds out. His report after the break.


VAUSE: Well, now to Iran and its relationship with the U.S. and while, you know, it is complicated there is not a lot of love between the governments there and Washington. But for many Iranians, it's not all death to America and Great Satan stuff -- far from it.

Nick Paton Walsh reports now from Tehran.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): the lights still sparkle in Tehran, sanctions be damned. Nobody here chants "death to America"; rather the design is from California, the clientele from Iran's worldly elite.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the Iranian people, they travel. They used to travel to America. Now with the sanctions, I'm not sure, but they are fed up with the politics here, but with Americans no.

WALSH: Take away their headscarves and add a few real cocktails, and you could be in Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People respect Americans, they like Americans and Iranians always try to re-create like American themes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think they hate Americans at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going to happen in the next 15 years, we don't even know what is going to happen tomorrow. Just every day is something new.

WALSH: You can't help think Iran and America's people ought to get to know each other a little better. Don't tell that to both their leaders.

There decades of animosity on display, and the ghoulish remains of the U.S. embassy. American diplomats were held hostage by Iran here and coups plotted by the CIA. The museum filling this top-secret spy room with dummies -- you have to think for just one second.

[01:54:57] (on camera): Now, the Trump administration is really doing all that it can to try and drag the image of the United States here in Iran back decades to a time of espionage, subterfuge when the United States was doing to gain all it possible could to undermine or change the Iranian government.

President Barack Obama well, he saw that in the age of the iPhone, there was an opportunity to improve Iran's economy, and persuade its people that its future lay with the outside world.

(voice over): It's been better way back when, too.

(INAUDIBLE) from Riverdale, New York, first came here for their honeymoon in the 50s. Their love affair is still going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people are wonderful. They are friendly. They're welcoming. They offered us roses at the airport. It was -- lovely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are disgusted with our president. Our president is misbehaving.

WALSH: Across town in southern Tehran, is the Iran that gets up early. Their day begins long before the sun's heat. There is far less money here but still articulate views on how the White House messes with their life.

"I don't have a deep understanding," he says, "but if the U.S. don't act justly, we don't count in Mr. Trump's eyes. He has problems with the government, but what is my sin?

The poor, the clerics who guide Iran, the young conscripts in an army whose regional grip has expanded.

"When we chant death to America," he says, it's the government of America. The people are respectable. We have no problem with them. I haven't fought in Iraq or Syria but if our military hadn't gone there, we would be fighting ISIS in the streets of Iran."

Sanctions are already felt here. Less animals are slaughtered, delivery of each lamb less profitable.

"I've got things to do," he says. "I don't have time to chant death to America."

Yet not all rising prices, like a 40 percent jump in housing costs they complain of here, are blamed on America.

"That's got nothing to do with the U.S.A.," this mans says. The government (INAUDIBLE) -- they don't provide me with my bread. They are not here."

He added, "The protests, like Iran has sporadically seen this year were futile." Yet the ebb and flow of Washington and Iran enmity make daily choices here harder.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN -- Tehran.


VAUSE: You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Thanks for being with us. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us.

Rosemary Church picks up from here after the break.