Cohen: President Trump 'doesn't tell the truth'

President Trump's ex-attorney Michael Cohen breaks his silence after being sentenced 36 months in federal prison.
26:46 | 12/14/18

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Transcript for Cohen: President Trump 'doesn't tell the truth'
And. Everybody welcome to prepare him on this Friday and Devin Dwyer and ABC news in Washington drummer political director reclined great to be with Rick today on this. Big day of ABC news exclusives. George Stephanopoulos are cheap anchors sitting down overnight. With the man at the center of the news this week Michael Cohen and president's fixer former attorney. Who is now going to jail three years behind bars for those crimes you've been talking about here in the briefing room. All week long fascinating interview that George had. I hearing from Michael Cohen on his latest thoughts about president from just what involvement the president had in those payments. Two women during the campaign why the president allegedly issued those directives. To Michael Cohen why Michael Cohen took the president at his word didn't warn the president. That this was illegal let's start with that and Rick and we can be kind of break this down we're gonna. Take a look at three of the big headlines out of this interview today and there were many of them. Starting with Michael Collins response to president trump. Who says he just didn't know that payments to these people were wrong here's a Michael Cohen had to say. He's saying very clearly. They never directed you to do anything wrong is that truthfully I don't think there's anybody that believes that for so nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done. Unless it was run through mr. trump. He directed me as I said in my out she ocean and I said his clothing deplete. He directed me to make the payments he directed me to become involved in these matters. Including the one with McDougal which is really between him. And David Pecker and then David Packers counsel I just reviewed the documents. In order to protect him I gave loyalty to someone. Who truthfully does not deserve what he was trying to hide where you were doing correct correct. And he knew it was wrong of course. And he was due neck to help his election he you have to remember at what point in time that this. Matter. Came about two weeks or so before the election pose to Billy bush. Comments so yes he was very concerned. About how this would affect the election. Pretty damning statement Rick and even if you doubt Michael Collins credibility what's fascinating and that very point. Is that the southern district of New York federal prosecutors. Put it in their charging document they agree and they seem to indicate they have other evidence to support what Michael Cohen say and this it. And that it wasn't about about a campaign contribution that's where the legality comes into this bill is crazy is it might be it's not illegal on its face of a hush money to someone to not talk about I think. But it is illegal to not do so if you're helping a campaign and did not report. What do you make of the president's excuse in present seems to be saying look I got bad legal advice that's. The bottom line of the president's defense on that point. You think that holds water army neither mr. legal analysts but you know that's it seems to be that this question. On the payments boils down to should the president have known it could he be culpable. By a news simply issue a new direction hey Michael Cohen just fix this for me while not enough to be guilty in trouble. Number one that's like his third or fourth explanation rice right originally city know anything about it yet ask Michael Coen. But even if you know the snippet that we have on tape where they're talking about this a surreptitiously recorded by Cohen. And you add on to that whatever other documentation. There might be out we we of this reporting out there that he was part of meetings on this it really hangs a lot on the president's ability to prove that he didn't know anything. When every indication at every stage has been to his word has not been good it has not been honest with with people. At every step of the way so if there's any way to. To tie this together and show trumps knowledge of it knowledge that this was done in this particular way to try to hide scrutiny all that's very bad news for the president and his or. The engineer president's critics pointed out he has been truthful before why should we believe his explanation now much more common that of course but Michael corn also revealing a side of the president. In his interview with George Stephanopoulos that we rarely get to see from people who were on the inside. In this clip we're gonna share a. You know I can't give you a specific time that'd. Went from point a to point B it was just a change I will tell you that the gentleman that is sitting now. In the Oval Office 16100 Pennsylvania Avenue is not the Donald Trump. That I remember from trump tower it is very he's a very different individual. What's happened to them. I think the pressure of the job. He's much more than what he thought it was going to be. It's not like to Trump Organization. Where he would bark out orders and people would blindly follow. What he wanted done. There's a system here he doesn't understand the system. And it's sad because the country has never been more divisive. And one of the hopes. That I have Howard. The punishment that I've received as well as to cooperation. That I have given. I will be. Remembered in history as helping to bring this country back together. We're never gonna White House reporter Catherine folders who had also covered the trump campaign she knows Michael Cohen very well Catherine you know one of the things that struck me about that clip. Was that Michael Cohen actually seems to affirm what has been in some cases the president's defense and all this look I'm a businessman. I don't understand the system I haven't been in Washington I don't know the rules. It's something you've heard time and time again from this White House but now it does seem to be that that. That long rain may not hold water with federal prosecutors. Exactly and he's saddened that and look it's still a question of whether he is willing to listen to those around him in the west wing now you heard Cohen say that at the Trump Organization he would a bark out orders to people on that he believes it's the pressure. Of this job in being in the White House that is an organization that he's struggling with we've heard that time and time again from advisors from former cabinet officials. Who have left this place. Up for that very reason that they later and gone on to say on the record and the other. Point I was struck Friday UN record discussing. I was the fact that the president is blaming this on what he calls bad legal advice tweeting that out minimizing Michael Collins. Lol I'm in giving him a legal advice but the reality was this to work very close Cohen worked with him. For very long time city do anything to protect in his office it was just a stone's throw away from the president's. In that trump tower and he was as personal attorney for years so it's definitely. More than just that bad legal advice here. And Catherine the president has its weeded or weighed in on the interview just yet affect the White House has been relatively muted but we do know that deputy spokesman. Holding diddley was out on the north line gag alien with you guys a lot of earlier today. Here's what he had to say about the White House reaction to Michael Collins interview with George Nicholas. To give credence to a convicted criminal. Who is lied. On multiple occasions in self admitted doing just that. It's quite frankly laughable the president has maintained and has said many times he has never instructed Michael Cohen to do anything illegal and we stand by that. The look I don't know about that particular part of the private conversation I know what the president has maintained that he's he's being never instructor Michael blue going to break any laws the fact is. Michael Collins a convicted criminal and the FBI had him dead to rights and what he decide to do was to reduce his sentence and in the meantime he cut a deal. And betrayed a former employer. Some part of their defense Rick also in addition to the president maybe not knowing the rules is that this guy is a serial liar. Has lied before pled guilty to lying and is line again is convicted convict him in. Well where do you think that that how do you think that will play. At least in the public eye public opinion is what matters here's and in the days and so much of this talk leads up to potential. You know talk for impeachment and other things a political decision. The you know the public opinion on this were they matter more than anything. Yeah he's not an ideal witness clearly he is said enough and admitted to an off. Lies to the FBI in into the public incidents congress. To undercut any of its testimony you could also argue the president has been just as untruthful in many directions. And I that's of that though that the relationship is important and I think that. That second clip we played gets to that relationship these two were extremely close you know I I first interviewed Michael Cohen back in 2011. When he was talking with Donald Trump was talking about potentially running he seemed to be a bit of a kingmaker at the time Michael Cohen memorably calls them. The godfather of politics at that time and indeed you did have of of a brotherly Arabia father and son type relationship. This is the man that sandy famously that he would take a bullet. For Donald Trump. And the fact that he has turned on him in this way may caller this the way that anyone considers what his testimony is because yes he lied but actually. You in his telling know he's lying to help Donald Trump. It's only now that he is saying on telling the truth to try to come clean he feels liberated by this and and what he's saying about the president and and how he's conducting himself like that you carries particular week given how close they once more. He does want to create this image of himself as sort of helping to heal the nation in his words in fact here's what he told George. About what role he plans to cut plan the conversation going forward after he gets out of prison Nicholas. You lie for him for a long time more than ten years flying. Out of loyalty. Out of loyalty to him I follow the bad path. And and how we started this conversation. I I I have my freedom and I will not. Be the villain as I told you once before I will not be the villain of historic Toby pleaded guilty to lying to congress. Yes. So were actually we now. Because the special counsel. Stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them as credible. And hopeful there's a substantial. Amount of information that they possess. That corroborates. The fact that I am telling the truth to down with the line I'm done with the lying I'm done being loyal. To president trump and my first loyalty belongs to my wife my daughter my son in this country. And of reverberations. Rick from this interview reaching Capitol Hill today members of congress weighing in on this already. Senator hatch one of the president's most loyal foot soldiers in the senate same unless actually gives him may be a little bit of pause. Affirming the Muller investigation and even you know looking back to Sunday before this interview people like Marco Rubio. Expressing some concern it's a sort of caution is in the air amongst Republicans as more more. Of these shoes drop with this investigation and we should be cautious how we frame this is not like the dam is broken and Republicans are jumping jet. But what is happening is you sort of see cracks in that all that solid wall that has surrounded the president and he's maybe the early indicators and you see people or revealing hats expressing his concerns no one of the people that will help president trump navigate all of this in the new year is going to be his new chief of staff the president. Today making some news on that front as well. Holding court at the White House in the Oval Office no public schedule today but interviewing people for his chief of staff making clear he's gonna take his time. We'll bring Katherine fall there's back into the conversation Catherine. We heard from Hogan get Lee add this morning that the president has five people on the list he even suggested that John Calley could stick around because the president. Does seem to be having some trouble making a decision or getting someone to agreed to take the drop. The this is an interesting shift from what the president said. Just yesterday saying that and he's having no problem finding a new chief of staff and interviewing folks while. A Kellyanne Conway went on TV last night and then Hogan giggly and deputy Press Secretary again today. And they've both suggested that Kelly could actually staying. Into the new year while. Oh while the president so makes his decision but at the same time Hogan said that he also said that a decision on this was imminent so to me those are. Two separate things in a study. Yeah and he and any did say that some of the names have come off the Latin and the list here has dramatically changed in the past 24 hours people like mark meadows. Who had been a front runner bowed out the White House said thanks but no thanks you we're hearing Catherine. That jury question error there was a lot of speculation whether the president's son in law can even be in the mix here. The other was some speculation and reports that a he may be in the mix but Kellyanne Conway. Talk to us a little earlier today and she said that she. I had not heard Kushner mention that she had not heard the president mention that. In DeVon another name. Out again today is that former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Who were told spoke with the president about this job last night he's. Taken himself out of the running but to people who were over here today Dave bossy who has. What it is a former campaign top aides along with. Could we hear that he is being interviewed but he was also you see them by leaving there with. Former campaign manager act quarry a Lewin doubts you know we know from our sources that Abbas is high on the president's list but this man. Abbas is a papal Christie also kept ball but he took himself out of the running Ricky gave him a phone call look at her here yeah he's not talking right now about what that meeting was like but he did put out a statement put out an out of there as it was the right time for hire him or his family I always had a hard time. Thinking about Chris Christie in this role not discuss in ABC news contributor these days so he's out off and on our air but. Either he used to be a principal and to get in at this moment you can see a lot of good things that might come out of a Chris Christie in there as chief of staff I think. He would have the stature to do the job be able he knows the president and his is relationships very very well but we've seen already with the two teases that he's had so far. President doesn't really want to chief of staff. He doesn't office manager he yes. You will move at a traffic control it's it's a hard it's a hard job to maintain if you're not actually empowered to do the job. My sense all along has been Christie would only do this job and he do it his way and I'm not clear that there was ever gonna be a way that he could do his way with presidential. And Christie like several the other candidates have expressed reservations about stepping into this for the Muller investigation is still going on May Miller interest in the job months the smoke clears from Napa they don't wanna be. Navigating the ship through the storm off on footnote to all the chief of staff speculation a critical position in the White House. We got a little look last night of the too well the former chief of staff and means soon to be former chief of staff about White House holiday party there's Wright's previous on the right John Kelly. And fun fact Rick before we move on and Washington Post reported Wright's previous may be joining that navy. Of all things says Jim Mattis the secretary of defense has recommended rights previous to dia. Naval reservists and see that kind Sean Spicer by the way is still in its remedy can they can join the ship together moving on. To another I've been very significant story today driving the conversation this town immigration has been a hot topic to close out the year of course. But a story in the Washington Post about a seven year old Guatemalan girl killed. Or exceed who died in custody of US Border Patrol agents after. That's suffering from Thurston dehydration. Are drawing a lot of outrage in this town about the crisis situation on the border and how the trump administration is handling. A lot of these are migrants that are pouring in. Big question now who's to blame does the administration bear any responsibility were joined by phone. We've ABC news contributor John Cohen he's a former ID HS official he oversaw lot of these immigration issues during the Obama administration John. What is your take on the situation with the death of this little girl a tragedy all around. Everybody seems to agree on nap but there does seem to be a good bit of debate over. Whether the administration did enough. To prevent her death what's your take. Well we've heard that the inspector general is not gonna investigate the death or not shouldn't be a surprise cut. Any time there than in custody GAAP when there's an adult or juvenile. It needs to be investigating need to be investigated. And we need to understand very clearly what happened. So the investigators a look at you know where there any indication. When the that the child was first first human contact with the Border Patrol. Officer as what that she was sacked still look at the circumstances in which they came into contact. It sounds like they were part of a group of migrants who. Voluntarily approached after illegally crossing the border a Border Patrol officer. I'm president turn themselves into them. Which and if they claimed asylum at that point or they said they were Seeking Asylum at that point. That would be considered. He would do that would be consistent with lots of they would be in a legal process. Such the other thing the investigators will look at. But again this is somebody who was in custody for our. Close to our over eight hours. It's a horrible tragedy it's going to be fully investigated as well Election Day. And I understand the trump administration is also asked Mexico to look into. Any culpability of the smugglers who brought this family brought the father and the daughter along as well. John when asked you sort of more broadly ABC news are timely honest just recently conducted an investigation for Nightline. On some of the health care facilities the resources that are treating these record numbers of migrants at the border and he found. The systems down there are weighing over stressed in fact this death of this little grows just one example of many. Sort of crisis situations for detainees and in. Give us your sense of how difficult that is for for a DHS and CBP to unit to handle the health concerns here in. From your study of the issue what what more needs to be done right now. Well yeah that's an interesting question and the time that I have worked alongside GDP and I I found the people that work to those organizations to be truly professional. And and very good planners meaning they understood the challenges at the border and when. They anticipated based on intelligence rather information that there would be a surge. In the years that I worked with them they were always very good about coming to the department and making the case. For the resources they needed to deal with who the surged that they were anticipating. We have now though in the trump administrations in multiple situations whether it was the initial rollout of the travel restrictions weather as the rollout of a zero tolerance. Program. Whether it was how we they dealt with the caravan. You know they had many weeks notice it was coming. Where they don't seem to be prepared and the problem is that. Political rhetoric to not keep people safe. And for some reason which I fully cannot understand. We've had multiple situations now. Where the health care resource says the processing resources and the resource is to ensure that people who are presenting themselves that the border. Are handled in a say. And in a safe manner. It's if it don't seem to be there are so. I think as the new congress comes in you're gonna get very hard law. At whether adequate resource as inadequate planning. This being used in order to deal we had a situation at the border which on any given day is fluid. And it requires. Careful planning. Our John Cohen ABC news contributor former DHS acting undersecretary thank you so much John Africa Allen and for that analysis. Rick in as as dumb as just seen the issues at the border immigration. A front and center right now in a funding fight to keep the government running into the new year and what to begin the new year with this issue on the table sounds like. What are you hearing from sources were where things stand with this possible government shut down we have just a week. One week from tomorrow the government will parts of the government run on the money just days before Christmas. And I wouldn't underestimate the human side of this and I think he's re injected with the death of the seven year old there are several prominent Democrats will be down on the border even this weekend senator Jeff Merkley from organ who did so much to highlight the issue in the first place and that's or or the congressman from El Paso. They're making his trip at a time where we are talking about these border issues and I think. When we close out this week you remember how Nancy Pelosi. Seemed to best Donald Trump and his own game a couple of days ago by getting president trump to own that shut down the fact that there's no members of congress in town right now and they're not coming back until very close to that deadline to me it's a signal that they know they don't have the votes to get the president has border wall they don't really want the border wall themselves a lot of he's retiring members of congress that Gillick the president's. Rhetoric on immigration is a part would hurt them are they going to go in and risk a government shutdown. In the closing days given the backdrop of these other issues it seems increasingly unlikely so I think shut down maybe slightly less likely but is not because president Thompson to get his way. That's what it's it's that net peoples who really called life. She did and we're also hearing from the White House to bring Katherine fall there's back into this there is some talks. Hot right now very little amenable talk is Rick seven a little glimmer that perhaps at the very least Republicans president trump war agree to some short term. CR here source short term fix to get us through Christmas at least and that these hundreds of thousands of government workers who would not be paid around the holidays to. Ticketed to be able to continue on it where are you hear anything new Catherine over their. Eighty yet has been some reporting that he's he's considering a charm is considering delaying this border laws fight until January we're seeing some talk of may be a two week extension but the reality is it Democrats. Want to take care of this now I don't really wanna drag it in a two next year and just some new bit of reporting from Marion con up on Capitol Hill. A democratic congressional aide tells her quote the only thing a two week CR would accomplish is that president from what. Lose twice. When interest in aren't we'll see if the president sheds. Any light and his take on that one out over the weekend and into into next week Catherine fathers at the White House thank you so much have a great weekend. However before we go to and a couple of quick hitters here what's going on in Wisconsin today governor Scott Walker outgoing does days left in his term signed some legislation. It's severely restricts. The powers of the incoming democratic governor Tony Evers. And democratic legislature is a pretty significant move on his part getting a lot of blowback but he was defiant today's signing the bill. This was started by Republican lawmakers who are of frankly a little surprised that that they beavers won the election just a few weeks ago Walker's been in power they are for the last eight years. And as frankly these Republicans that we don't trust the new guy we don't think. That would that he's got enough juice with us that we can even trust with the powers that the the previous governor had so they passed. A package of bills that Governor Walker had not asked for that would curtail the next governor's power yet Governor Walker today said look I'm that I'm the governor right up and threw the first week it dour. Holly usual is this I mean how unusual is it for a state and outgoing party any given state to tie the hands of the incoming and some of the ways you're seeing right here in the screen and in lifting. Limiting the governor's power over agencies. As you see your preventing the attorney general from being able to pull out of the Affordable Care Act lawsuit obviously very controversial for street new voting restrictions in the light. How unusual is that. Attempt late because it happened in North Carolina just two years ago but other than that look legislatures do things like this but this kind of concerted effort happened here it's happening in Michigan as well. I was struck by the piece of this around the Affordable Care Act because. If there's one thing that beavers made clear he can do differently to Scott Walker it was to include the Medicaid expansion under Obama's signature part of its plan was a huge part of his plan and many Democrats are on a country. Brad on this so for the legislators to specifically say look you can't get out of that lawsuit even though you told everyone you're gonna do it. That is up toothless man ran smack down to the people that just voted for Tony fevers they're going to be legal challenges maybe with the incoming governors part of it but is going to be quite a fight in the new. Year and beyond smoke stay tuned there on Wisconsin a key state for in the presidential election as well lot of eyes and Wisconsin finally today. Our eyes a little bit on the Supreme Court on tomorrow marking the 227. Anniversary of ratification of the bill of rights if you can believe it. Its first ten amendments to the constitution while today Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Associate justice of the Supreme Court after that health scare a month ago when her first public appearance. At a naturalization ceremony for 31 of the newest. Newly minted Americans. And she gave the address there are happen to be there she talked about the importance wait for it. Immigration immigrants people coming into this country to seek a better life here's a little bit about what she had to say throw in some shade perhaps. We are a nation. Me strong thank. People like you. People who traveled long distances. Overcame. Great to. And made tremendous sacrifices. All of provide a better life for themselves. And their Tammy. Who looks like she was speaking in a cave that's actually in the national archive address right in front of just very delicate. Original constitution documents they don't let any lights come on not. But you know it was very interesting to hear her she's obviously waiting very deliberately in tissue to talk but citizenship the importance of being a citizen said she took very specifically about immigration diversity. This Spain's on America's legacy when it comes to immigration. You know might be going too far to say that she was directly reducing the president or anything like that but it's not lost and anybody given her past track record. That she was very deliberate and governments that are BG doesn't play coincidence schemes and I guess. She's back thank you for joining us here in the very firm today at 330 whatever great weekend you can follow the latest on all of these stories read downloading the ABC news at Be sure to join us Monday 330 right back here in the briefing room and ABC news live check out the note. However Klein's signature analysis piece there have a great weekend for Rick I'm DeVon who are cynnex.

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