May 19, 2019
We finally have the facts. The two year long investigation, lead by Robert Mueller, into whether or not the 2016 Donald Trump for President campaign worked with members of the Russian government to steal and release Democratic Party emails is now complete. In this episode, after reading every word of the 448 page report, Jen breaks what the facts indicate Donald Trump did and did not do so that we can all be "in the know" for the Congressional battles with the President that are sure to come.
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Document: Interactive NYT Mueller report New York Times, March 2019.
Article: Taibbi: As Mueller Probe Ends,New Russiagate Myth Begins by Matt Taibbi, RollingStone, March 25, 2019.
Article: Text with Roger Stone’s name (Volume II, pg 128), by Marisa Schultz and Nikki Schwab, New York Post, November 28, 2018.
Transcript: Remarks by President Trump in Press Gaggle The White House, June 15, 2018.
Article: Sessions Met with Russian Ambassador During Trumps Presidential Campaign by Adam Entous, Ellen Naskashima and Greg Miller, The Washington Post, March 1, 2017
Press Gaggle Transcript: Remarks by President Trump in Press Gaggle, June 15, 2018
Hearing Transcript: Oversight Hearing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, December 13, 2017
Hearing Transcript: Open Hearing with Former FBI Director James Comey, June 8, 2017
Statement Transcript: Statement from the Press Secretary, May 9, 2017
33:31 Michael Cohen: You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.
33:44 Michael Cohen: To be clear, Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.
39:21 Michael Cohen: Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation, only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say this campaign was going to be greatest infomercial in political history. He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign, for him, was always a marketing opportunity.
43:50 Michael Cohen: Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw man to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned off at an art Hampton’s event. The objective was to ensure that this portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself.
48:50 Michael Cohen: When I say con man, I'm talking about a man who declares himself brilliant, but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores.
53:09 Michael Cohen: Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr had the worst judgment of anyone in the world.
55:31 Michael Cohen: And by coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal scurrilous attacks by the president and his lawyer trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel.
56:30 Michael Cohen: And I hope this committee and all members of Congress on both sides of the aisle make it clear that as a nation, we should not tolerate attempts to intimidate witnesses before Congress and attacks on family are out of bounds and not acceptable.
2:10:30 Michael Cohen: And when Mr. Trump turned around early in the campaign and said, I can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, I want to be very clear. He's not joking. He's telling you the truth. You don't know him. I do. I sat next to this man for 10 years and I watched his back.
2:11:13 Michael Cohen: And when he goes on Twitter and he starts bringing in my in-laws, my parents, my wife, what does he think is going to happen? He's causing... He's sending out the same message that he can do whatever he wants. This is his country. He's becoming an autocrat and hopefully something bad will happen to me or my children and my wife so that I will not be here and testify. That's what his hope was. To intimidate me.
2:11:46 Rep. Jim Cooper (TN): Have you ever seen Mr. Trump personally threaten people with physical harm? Michael Cohen: No. He would use others.
2:12:00 Michael Cohen: Everybody’s job at the Trump organization is to protect Mr. Trump
2:12:07 Michael Cohen: Every day. Most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something, and that became the norm, and that's exactly what's happening right now in, in this country. That's exactly what's happening here in government.
4:10:30 Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI): Mr Cohen, why do you feel or believe that the president is repeatedly attacking you? You are stating that you feel intimidated asking us to protect you following your cooperation with law enforcement. Michael Cohen: When you have access to 60 plus million people that follow you on social media and you have the ability within which to spark some action by individuals that follow and follow him and from his own words that he can walk down Fifth Avenue, shoot someone and get away with it. It's never comfortable when the President of the United States… Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI): What do you think he can do to you? Michael Cohen: A lot. And it's not just him, it's those people that follow him in his rhetoric. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI): What is a lot? Michael Cohen: I don't know. I don't walk with my wife. If we go to a restaurant or we go somewhere, I don't walk with my children. I make them go before me because I have fear and it's the same fear that I had before when he initially decided to drop that tweet in my cell phone. I receive some, and I'm sure you, you'll understand. I received some tweets. I received some Facebook messenger, all sorts of social media attacks upon me, whether it's the private direct message that I've had to turn over to secret service because they are the most vile, disgusting statements that anyone can ever receive. And when it starts to affect your children, that's when it really affects you.
Ainsley Earhardt:What grade do you give yourself so far? President Donald Trump: So, I give myself an A+. Ainsley Earhardt: Will you fire Sessions? President Donald Trump: I'll tell you what, as I've said, I wanted to stay uninvolved, but when everybody sees what's going on in the Justice Department - I put "Justice" now in quotes - It's a very, very sad day. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn't have done, or he should have told me. Even my enemies say that Jeff sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn't have put him in. He took the job and then he said, "I'm going to recuse myself." I said, "What kind of a man is this?" And by the way, he was on the campaign and you know, the only reason I gave him the job, because I felt loyalty. He was an original supporter.
President Donald Trump: He makes a better deal when he uses me, like everybody else, and one of the reasons I respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial... You know, they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping. For 30, 40 years, I've been watching flippers. Everything's wonderful, and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed. It's not fair.
6:30 Reporter: So there’s some high-profile court cases going on. You’ve got a former campaign manager, your former lawyer. They’re all dealing with legal troubles. Are you paying close attention — President Donald Trump: Well, I feel badly about a lot of them, because I think a lot of it is very unfair. I mean, I look at some of them where they go back 12 years. Like Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. But I feel so — I tell you, I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago?
8:50 Reporter: Is he still your lawyer? President Donald Trump: No, he’s not my lawyer anymore. But I always liked Michael, and he’s a good person. And I think he’s been — Reporter: Are you worried he will cooperate? President Donald Trump: Excuse me, do you mind if I talk? Reporter: I just want to know if you’re worried — President Donald Trump: You’re asking me a question; I’m trying to ask it. Reporter: I just want to know if you’re worried if he’s going to cooperate with federal investigators. President Donald Trump: No, I’m not worried because I did nothing wrong.
President Donald Trump: So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man. And it’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time. I’ve wanted to keep it down. We’ve given, I believe, over a million pages’ worth of documents to the Special Counsel. They continue to just go forward. And here we are talking about Syria and we’re talking about a lot of serious things. We’re the greatest fighting force ever. And I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now.
President Donald Trump: The Attorney General made a terrible mistake when he did this, and when he recused himself. Or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have used a — put a different Attorney General in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country. But you’ll figure that out.
48:20 Senator James Risch (ID): You put this in quotes. Words matter. You wrote down the words so we can all have the words in front of us now. There’s 28 words there that are in quotes, and it says, quote, ‘‘I hope’’—this is the President speaking—‘‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’’Now those are his exact words, is that correct? James Comey:: Correct. Senator RISCH: And you wrote them here and you put them in quotes? Director COMEY: Correct. Senator RISCH: Okay. Thank you for that. He did not direct you to let it go? Director COMEY: Not in his words, no. Senator RISCH: He did not order you to let it go? Director COMEY: Again, those words are not an order. Senator RISCH: No. He said, ‘‘I hope.’’ Now, like me, you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases, charging people with criminal offenses. And of course you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there where people have been charged. Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome? Director COMEY: I don’t know well enough to answer. And the reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction. Senator RISCH: Right. Director COMEY: I mean, this is the President of the United States with me alone, saying, ‘‘I hope’’ this. I took it as this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.
54:18 Sen. Diane Feinstein (CA): You described two phone calls that you re- ceived from President Trump, one on March 30 and one on April 11, where he, quote, ‘‘described the Russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability,’’ end quote, as President and asked you, quote, ‘‘to lift the cloud,’’ end quote. How did you interpret that? And what did you believe he wanted you to do? Director COMEY: I interpreted that as he was frustrated that the Russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy, I think he meant of the Executive Branch, but in the public square in general, and it was making it difficult for him to focus on other priorities of his. But what he asked me was actually narrower than that. So I think what he meant by the cloud, and again I could be wrong, but what I think he meant by the cloud was the entire investigation is taking up oxygen and making it hard for me to focus on the things I want to focus on. The ask was to get it out that I, the President, am not personally under investigation.
1:17:17 Sen. Susan Collins (ME): And was the President under investigation at the time of your dismissal on May 9th? James Comey: No.
1:30:15 James Comey: On March the 30th, and I think again on—I think on April 11th as well, I told him we’re not investigating him personally. That was true.
1:39:10 Sen. Angus King (ME): And in his press conference on May 18th, the President was asked whether he had urged you to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn. The President responded, quote, ‘‘No, no. Next question.’’ Is that an accurate statement? James Comey: I don’t believe it is.
1:48:15 James Comey: I think there’s a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the Oval Office, looking the FBI Director in the eye, and saying, ‘‘I hope you’ll let this go.’’ I think if our—if the agents, as good as they are, heard the President of the United States did that there’s a real risk of a chilling effect on their work.
2:21:35 Sen. Jack Reed (RI): You interpret the discussion with the President about Flynn as a direction to stop the investigation. Is that correct? James Comey: Yes.
2:24:25 James Comey: I know I was fired because something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him, in some way irritating him, and he decided to fire me because of that. I can’t go farther than that.
2:26:00 James Comey: There’s no doubt that it’s a fair judgment, it’s my judgment, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. I was fired in some way to change—or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.
President Donald Trump: Look, he's a show boat. He's a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil less than a year ago. It hasn't recovered from that.
Lester Holt: Monday you met with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosensteinn. President Donald Trump: Right. Lester Holt: Did you ask for recommendation? President Donald Trump: What I did is I was going to fire Comey. My decision. It was not... Lester Holt: You had made the decision before they came... President Donald Trump: I was going to fire Comey. There's no good time to do it, by the way. Lester Holt: Because in your letter, you said, I accepted their recommendation, so you had already made the decision? President Donald Trump: Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.
President Donald Trump: And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.
Lester Holt: Let me ask you about your termination letter to Mr. Comey. You write, "I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation." Why did you put that in there? President Donald Trump: Because he told me that, I mean he told me... Lester Holt: He told you you weren't under investigation with regard to the Russian investigation? President Donald Trump: I've heard that from others. I think... Lester Holt: Was it in a phone call? Did you meet face to face? President Donald Trump: I had a dinner with him. He wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. We had a very nice dinner at the White House. Lester Holt: He asked for the dinner? President Donald Trump: The dinner was arranged, I think he has for the dinner and he wanted to stay on as the FBI head and I said, I'll consider, we'll see what happens. But we had a very nice dinner and at that time he told me, you are not under investigation. Which I knew anyway. Lester Holt: That was one meeting. What were the other two? President Donald Trump: First of all, when you're under investigation, you're giving all sorts of documents and everything. I knew I wasn't under and I heard it was stated at the committee, at some committee level, that I wasn't. Number one. Then during the phone call, he said it and then during another phone call. He said it. So he said it once at dinner and then he said it twice doing phone calls. Lester Holt: Did you call him? President Donald Trump: In one case I called him. In one case he called me. Lester Holt: And did you ask him I under investigation? President Donald Trump: I actually asked him, yes. I said, if it's possible when you let me know, am I under investigation? He said, "You are not under investigation." Lester Holt: But he's, he's given sworn testimony that there was an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign and possible collusion with the Russian government. You were the centerpiece of the Trump campaign, so was he being truthful when he said that you weren't under investigation? President Donald Trump: Well, I know one thing. I know that I'm not under investigation. Me. Personally. I'm not talking about campaigns. I'm not talking about anything else. I'm not under investigation.
President Donald Trump: He's not my man or not my man. I didn't appoint him. He was appointed long before me.
President Donald Trump: There was no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians. The other thing is the Russians did not affect the vote and everybody seems to think that.
Lester Holt: But when you put out tweets, it's a total hoax. It's a taxpayer's charade. And you're looking for a new FBI director. Are you not sending that person a message to lay off? President Donald Trump: No, I'm not doing that. I think that we have to get back to work, but I want to find out, I want to get to the bottom. If Russia hacked, if Russia did anything having to do with our election, I want to know about.
57:19 Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT): In October, the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign's connection to Russia. You sent a letter informing the Senate and House that you are reviewing additional emails. It could be relevant to this, but both of those cases are open, but you're still only commented on one. FBI Director James Comey: I commented, as I explained earlier on October 28th in a letter that I sent to the chair and rankings of the oversight committees that we were taking additional steps in the Clinton email investigation because I had testified under oath repeatedly that we were done, that we were finished there. With respect to the Russia investigation, we treated it like we did with the Clinton investigation. We didn't say a word about it until months into it. And then the only thing we've confirmed so far about this is - same thing with the Clinton investigation - that we are investigating and I would expect we're not going to say another peep about it until we're done.
1:47:32 Sen. Al Franken (MN): Any investigation into whether the Trump campaign or Trump operation colluded with Russian operatives would require a full appreciation of the president's financial dealings. Director Comey, would president Trump's tax returns be material to such an investigation? FBI Director James Comey: That's not something, Senator, I'm going to answer. Sen. Al Franken (MN): Does the investigation have access to President Trump's tax returns? FBI Director James Comey: I have to give you the same answer. Again, I hope people don't over interpret my answers, but I just don't want to start talking about anything...What we're looking at and how.
2:00:15 FBI Director James Comey: The current investigation with respect to Russia, we've confirmed it. The Department of Justice authorized me to confirm that exists. We're not going to say another word about it until we're done.
2:11:30 Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI): You do confirm that there is still an ongoing investigation of the Trump campaign and their conduct with regard to Russian efforts to undermine our elections? FBI Director James Comey: We're conducting an investigation to understand whether there was any coordination between the Russian efforts and anybody associated with the Trump campaign. Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI): So since you've already confirmed that such an investigation is ongoing, can you tell us more about what constitutes that investigation? FBI Director James Comey: No. 2:25:40 Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): You have confirmed, I believe that the FBI is investigating potential ties between Trump associates and the Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, correct? FBI Director James Comey:Yes. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): And you have not, to my knowledge, ruled out anyone in the Trump campaign as potentially a target of that criminal investigation. Correct? FBI Director James Comey: Well, I haven't said anything publicly about who we've opened investigations on. I've briefed the chair and ranking on who those people are. And so I, I can't, I can't go beyond that in this setting. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Have you ruled out anyone in the campaign that you can disclose? FBI Director James Comey: I don't feel comfortable answering that senator, because I think it puts me on a slope to talking about who we're investigating. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Have you ruled out the president United States? FBI Director James Comey: I don't want people to over-interpret this answer. I'm not going to comment on anyone in particular because that puts me down a slope of... Cause if I say no to that, then I have to answer succeeding questions. So what we've done is brief the chair and ranking on who the U.S. persons are that we've opened investigations on. And that's, that's as far as we're going to go with this point. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): But as a former prosecutor, you know that when there's an investigation into several potentially culpable individuals, the evidence from those individuals and the investigation can lead to others. Correct? FBI Director James Comey: Correct. We're always open minded about, and we follow the evidence wherever it takes us. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): So potentially the President of the United States could be a target of your ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's involvement with Russian interference in our election. Correct? FBI Director James Comey: I just worry... I don't want to answer that because it seems to be unfair speculation. We will follow the evidence. We'll try and find as much as we can and we'll follow the evidence where it leads.
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