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Hunt for Gunman Who Killed Three At France Christmas Market; Trump Threatens Government Shutdown In Border Wall Feud; Manafort May Not Fight Claims He Lied To Mueller. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired December 12, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hunt for a killer: hundreds of police and troops mobilized across France, searching for a gunman who opened fire at a Christmas market, an attack being treated as an act of possible terrorism.
Britain's prime minister went to Europe looking for major concessions on her Brexit plan, a trip so spectacularly unsuccessful, at one point she couldn't even exit her car.
Free on bail: after 10 days detention, a Canadian court releases the CFO of China's tech giant, Huawei, but the legal battle for Meng Wanzhou has only just begun.
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
VAUSE: France has raised the national security threat level and a massive manhunt continues at this hour, police and soldiers searching for a lone gunman, who shot dead three people at a Christmas market in Strasbourg.
The suspect is believed to be wounded and is known to police. He has a criminal past and was on a terror watch list. More details now from CNN's Ben Wedeman.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A massive manhunt is underway in France for a gunman who killed three people and wounded 12, six of them in serious condition, at a popular Christmas market in Strasbourg in Eastern France.
The suspect is an individual, according to the French police, born in 1989. He is on the so-called Fiche-S or S-list of individuals believed to be a potential threat to public security.
Interestingly enough, the police went to his home in Strasbourg in the morning but they did not find him. And in the course of his attack, a soldier, according to the French police, wounded the suspect, who somehow managed to get away in a taxi.
Now we heard in an early morning press conference from the French interior minister, who says that border security is being beefed up, that security around the many Christmas markets in France is also going to be increased and that more than 300 security -- 350 security personnel have been mobilized in this manhunt and that more are on the way.
Historically, Christmas markets have been a tempting target for terrorists. In the year 2000, the French police managed to thwart a planned Al Qaeda attack on the very same Christmas market in Strasbourg.
In 2016, French police managed to arrest seven individuals, who apparently were also planning to attack Christmas markets.
And before this latest attack, the biggest attack on a Christmas market in Europe was on the 19th of December 2016, when a man who had declared his loyalty to ISIS drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.
As a result of today's attack, France is now on its highest security alert -- I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Paris.
VAUSE: CNN law enforcement contributor and retired FBI special agent Steve Moore is with us from Los Angeles.
Steve, good to see you. What we're hearing is that the city claimed that the security at this Christmas market had been increased after a series of terror attacks in France in 2015.
We're told the shooter was on a terror watch list. Authorities had been searching his home earlier in the day because he was a suspect in an armed robbery. There are reports they found explosives.
And despite all of that, he managed to carry out this attack. And then an hour later apparently he was wounded. He was cordoned by police but, after exchanging gunfire, he escaped.
How did he manage to do all of this?
STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: I don't know. He's either the luckiest man in the world or people weren't really watching carefully for him, John. I mean, look at what you've got. You know he's on the terror watch list. You went to his house to arrest him today or the day of the attack. He's not there but explosives are.
You've got to know at that point even if he hadn't planned on something this day and it's possible he hadn't planned on it for that exact day, but he knows -- he knows they're on to him so this will be the day he attacks whether it was planned or not. And maybe you know, I don't -- [00:05:00]
MOORE: -- know what plans they had in place, but if they had any, they were inadequate.
VAUSE: There have been three minor terror attacks in France in 2018. We say minor, in relation to the other big ones.
Were they off their game?
Did they let their guard down?
MOORE: They may have. I mean, to me -- and again, I'm reticent to really come in with both feet -- but when you have somebody who is essentially triggered, they've started the clock on this guy. The minute they hit his house, he realizes police have been there and they found his explosives.
He knows it's over. This is the last chance he's going to get to attack. And you, as a law enforcement agency, have to know that. So I can't imagine this place not being ringed with people looking for this guy with his picture in their hands.
VAUSE: Well, it's interesting. If you take a closer look at the exact location of this Christmas market, it's almost like an island. It's surrounded by canals and waterways on all sides.
This would seem at least one location -- not easy but it's not impossible to secure, especially if the advertising for this market is true and it attracts up to 2 million visitors a year.
MOORE: Yes. And it's not like they didn't have an idea where somebody might want to hit.
I mean, what are they going to do?
They're Muslim terrorists. I'm not saying -- this isn't against Islam. But these are Muslim terrorists. So if they want to hit the infidel, they're going to hit them at a religious ceremony or a religious celebration, which would be the capital of Christmas, right there in Strasbourg.
And we know from the earlier attempts to attack this very same celebration that it's on their radar. So I don't know why -- either they looked for the wrong thing or were decoyed or whatever. But they weren't where they needed to be.
VAUSE: Yes. That would certainly seem to be the case. Steve, thank you. Appreciate you for being with us.
VAUSE: Britain's prime minister will be awaking to headlines this Wednesday of the growing momentum within her Conservative Party to oust her as leader. The reports quote a variety of sources, who believe the required number of letters from Conservative lawmakers calling for a no-confidence vote has been met.
Still no official confirmation that a leadership vote will take place.
Theresa May returned to London Tuesday night after meeting with European leaders. All said there would be no renegotiating her Brexit plan. In Germany, a troubling moment, perhaps. Theresa May struggled to leave her car before a meeting with chancellor Angela Merkel. Erin McLaughlin reporting now from Brussels.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brussels was the last stop of the day for British prime minister Theresa May on this diplomatic push to see her deal through Parliament.
She met with the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, who tweeted out, after the bilateral, saying, "Long and frank discussion with prime minister Theresa May ahead of Brexit summit. Clear that E.U. 27 wants to help. The question is how."
There are no answers at this point for the British prime minister except more red lines from the European Commission president Jean- Claude Juncker this morning, saying that there will be no opening of that negotiation.
He did, however, say that it would be possible for clarifications of some sort. What sort of clarifications he did not specify. All eyes now are on the summit scheduled for Thursday that will be focused on Brexit.
Chatter here about a possible political declaration that could be put alongside the already negotiated withdrawal agreement. We're just going to have to wait and see.
It certainly seems, though, that anything that comes out of the summit at this point will fall short of what Theresa May is looking for to move the needle there in Westminster -- Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Brussels.
VAUSE: Standing by for us now, CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas.
OK, there is a clear message coming from at least three senior European leaders. It's all the same. There will be no compromise on the terms of the Brexit deal. When Theresa May arrived for the meeting with the German chancellor, she was struggling to exit the car.
In hindsight, she should have stayed in the car because, in a very Frau Merkel way, a man was told to take it to Brussels, not the individual capitals. The president of the European Commission, Jean- Claude Juncker, questioned why the E.U. was even talking to May at this point. Take a look at that tweet from the E.U. president, Donald Tusk, which
read in part, "Clear that E.U. 27 wants to help. The question is how."
Let's put away the diplomacy and the niceties.
Shouldn't that tweet actually read the E.U. 27 could help, I just wish we wanted to?
Or put it another way, because we understand doesn't actually mean we care.
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Right. Well, yes, that's one of the ways, you could argue a strategy is to --
THOMAS: -- go back to the U.K. and say look how tough the European Union are. Let's blame them for my incapacity to convince you that this deal is worthwhile.
As far as the European Union is concerned, Theresa May is there pushing for Brexit. This is not something they're particularly thrilled about and they're also concerned about protecting integrity of the European Union and also to send a strict message to other European Union countries or the Exiteers, that leaving the European Union is not an easy process.
But I would also say that all the way along, the European Union has done everything in their power to accommodate the multiple requests that keep coming back and forth across the Channel and sending Theresa May back.
And ultimately the question of that tweet should really be not so much how is it that we can help you but why on Earth are you here, speaking to us, when you should be back in the U.K., where just about every parliamentarian is planning how to overthrow you?
And until you clear that up, it doesn't seem like there is anything really that we can do for you.
VAUSE: OK, Joey Jones, Theresa May's former spokesman, was on CNN and he revealed the grand "strategery" here behind the prime minister's thinking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOEY JONES, MAY FORMER SPOKESPERSON: I don't think there really is a strategy. And what worries the people in the Conservative Party that I've been speaking to, most of all, is the sense that she is basically adopting a sort of tunnel vision mentality, hour to hour, day to day, minute to minute, that she is just trying to doggedly plod on in the hope that something turns up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Brilliant, isn't it?
Push on for as long as you possibly can. Hope for a lucky break. Kind of explains the last couple of months that she has had at Number 10. But now barring some kind of Christmas miracle, it seems she is finished.
Would you count her time in office as prime minister in what, in days, in hours?
How do you see it?
THOMAS: In her mind, I cannot help but think very quickly of that Monty Python sketch, "The Black Knight."
THOMAS: -- they lose an arm and another arm and it's just a flesh wound and a scratch and, in the end, I am invincible. You get that kind of sentiment about it. I think that really the most likely and the most strategic option -- and if the Conservatives don't do it, the Labour Party is going to be pushed into calling a vote of no confidence or a general election. The burden is slightly higher on that.
But it is much easier for the Conservative Party to have this internal vote, complicated process but, nevertheless, an internal vote, where they could not only oust her but potentially replace her with another Conservative leader, who they believe will be able to take them forward into these negotiations.
Now it's not clear who that person would be. It's not clear whether there is any kind of consensus. But I think as long as Theresa May is there standing, the problems are going to remain. And rather than engaging in this cross-party consultation, she skipped the Channel and went to Europe.
VAUSE: And replacing Theresa May as leader won't solve the central problems of Brexit. I mean, there really seem to be three possible outcomes here and they all say the same regardless of who the prime minister is.
A hard no deal Brexit or you can just ignore the referendum and go back to how it used to be, stay in the E.U., or hold another referendum. All three of those options are certain to cause tears before bedtime, regardless of which one you choose.
THOMAS: Yes. That's the thing. We're back again to this interesting thing that the majority of Conservatives support Brexit and that the official position of the Labour Party is to not go back over the referendum.
Having said that, it seems to me that the most logical way is either you have a referendum with a straight up and down question, remain or leave. If it's remain, the whole thing is over. If it's leave, until you engage in cross-party consultation and come up with something that you can go back to the European Union the other way around, knowing that the Parliament will support it, there is no way out of this political crisis and things just get to be worse and worse.
But repeatedly going to the European Union and bringing it back is just not going to work. I think we've reached a junction right now where essentially people are not willing to go along with this and there is nothing she is going to bring back that is going to save her PM-ship.
VAUSE: OK, Dominic. Good to see you. Thank you.
THOMAS: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: Come January, the U.S. president's political world will be firmly changed when he faces for the first time a divided Congress. Democrats will be the majority party in the lower house. Republicans will retain control of the Senate.
On Tuesday in the Oval Office, there was perhaps a glimpse of what that will look like, with Democratic congressional leaders and President Trump, squabbling in public, insulting each other, calling each other nasty names over a possible government shutdown. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more now from the White House.
TRUMP: OK, thank you very much.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It started out with a laugh.
TRUMP: And then we have the easy one, the wall. That will be the one that will be the easiest of all.
What do you think, Chuck?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: It's called funding the government, Mr. President.
COLLINS (voice-over): But today's Oval Office meeting between President Trump and Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer quickly descended into chaos, as Washington watched talks over funding the president's border wall break down on live television.
SCHUMER: One thing I think we can agree on is we shouldn't shut down the government over a dispute. And you want to shut it down. You keep talking about it.
TRUMP: The last time, Chuck --
TRUMP: -- you shut it down. SCHUMER: No, no, no.
TRUMP: And then you --
SCHUMER: Twenty times --
TRUMP: Please --
SCHUMER: -- 20 times --
TRUMP: I don't want to do what you did.
SCHUMER: -- 20 times you had called for, I will shut down the government if I don't get my wall. None of us have said.
TRUMP: You want to know something?
SCHUMER: You've said it.
TRUMP: You wanted to put --
SCHUMER: You said it.
TRUMP: I'll take it. OK, good.
You know what I'll say?
Yes. If we don't get what we want, one way or the other, whether it's through you, through a military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government.
SCHUMER: OK. Now we know.
TRUMP: Absolutely. And I am proud --
SCHUMER: We disagree.
TRUMP: -- I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it.
The last time you shut it down, it didn't work. I will take the mantle of shutting it down. And I'm going to shut it down for border security.
SCHUMER: But we believe you shouldn't shut it down.
COLLINS (voice-over): The new power dynamic in Washington pointed fingers, raised their voices and constantly interrupted one another.
TRUMP: Excuse me. COLLINS (voice-over): It was the first meeting between the three in over a year and was supposed to be closed to the press. But after the cameras were summoned at the last minute, Pelosi and Schumer pleaded with Trump to have this fight behind closed doors.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF.), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I don't think we should have a debate in front of the press on this.
SCHUMER: Let's debate in private, OK?
COLLINS (voice-over): As things heated up, Trump implying Pelosi was only taking a tough stance because she wants to nail down votes to become Speaker.
TRUMP: I also know that Nancy is in a situation where it's not easy for her to talk right now. And we have to have border security.
PELOSI: Mr. President, please don't characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as a leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory.
TRUMP: And we gained in the Senate. Nancy, we gained in the Senate. Excuse me.
Did we win the Senate?
We won the Senate.
SCHUMER: When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he's in real trouble.
TRUMP: I did. We did win.
PELOSI: Let me say this.
TRUMP: North Dakota and Indiana.
COLLINS (voice-over): Schumer then telling Trump --
SCHUMER: Elections have consequences, Mr. President.
COLLINS (voice-over): It only got worse after reporters left the room. Schumer later telling reporters this while still standing in front of the West Wing.
SCHUMER: This Trump shutdown, this temper tantrum that he seems to throw, will not get him his wall. And it will hurt a lot of people because he will cause the shutdown. He admitted he wanted a shutdown.
COLLINS (voice-over): The meeting coming to a close without a resolution and only increasing chances of a government shutdown next week.
COLLINS: Now Nancy Pelosi went to Capitol Hill after that contentious meeting with President Trump. And she was praising herself and Chuck Schumer for getting the president on camera, saying that he'll own a shutdown if there is one.
She also said one other interesting remark -- and I'm quoting her now -- she said," It's like a manhood thing with him, as if manhood can be associated with him, this wall thing."
Showing that we're in for a very interesting two years with this as the power dynamic in Washington -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.
VAUSE: A Canadian court has granted bail to the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Meng Wanzhou has been ordered to post more than $7 million U.S. in bail that will prevent her from leaving the country pending a hearing for her extradition back to the U.S.
She also has to surrender her passports, follow a curfew and will be accompanied by a security detail around the clock. Meng, the daughter of the founder of the tech giant, is accused of helping the company dodge U.S. sanctions on Iran. But her arrest has sparked outrage in China, with allegations she is being used as a bargaining chip in Beijing's trade war with the Trump administration.
Andrew Stevens is with us now from Hong Kong.
So in the past few hours when the president was actually asked by the Reuters News Agency if he would intervene in this case, he said, quote, "If I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made -- which is a very important thing -- what's good for national security, I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary."
Those remarks differ significantly from what U.S. officials have been saying up to this point and they really seem to indicate that perhaps the fate of Meng is actually on the table, tied to those trade negotiations.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: It certainly looks like she is going to be a pawn in this power game on trade between the two biggest economies in the world. What we heard from the U.S. administration just two days ago from Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, is that the arrest would have no impact on the trade negotiations, that it was a criminal justice matter and it was a totally separate issue to what Lighthizer's people were dealing with on policy relating to change -- to trade, excuse me.
And now as you point out, we've got this line from Donald Trump, saying, yes, I will intervene on the Meng case if I think it's going to be good for this trade deal. What it does do is play into the Chinese state media hands, which is already accusing this arrest of being based purely on U.S. political reasons.
The Chinese government, which hasn't -- [00:20:00]
STEVENS: -- commented yet, but -- on Trump's words, John, but they have said before that they've been angry. They call it grave mistakes and they've threatened grave implications to both Canada and the U.S.
But they haven't drawn a direct line between the arrest and the trade talks, which Donald Trump has now done for them, which does leave Meng. She'll reappear on February 6th after she got bail at 10 million Canadian dollars. That's about $7.5 million U.S. She wears an ankle bracelet. She'll be living in one of her palatial homes.
But one point I'll make is the judge on this was quite scathing in the U.S. deposition on opposing the bail, John. They said that there was some speculative parts of the U.S. case.
So the Canadians already said that this is not a watertight case on extradition. So there is still a chance she may not be extradited at all.
VAUSE: OK, Andrew. Thank you. Andrew Stevens live in Hong Kong.
Still to come here, Yemen's warring parties agree to a prisoner exchange, a sign of progress. But the country is facing much bigger, much more urgent problems. And as those peace efforts inch forward, the bombs continue to fall on Yemen's port city of Hudaydah and CNN has a rare glimpse of the suffering families are facing there every day.
VAUSE: In a castle near Stockholm, Sweden, U.N.-sponsored peace talks trying to end the war in Yemen are making slow incremental progress. One monitoring group reports a surge in Yemen's death toll last month. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project puts the number of fatalities in November alone at more than 3,000.
ACLED believes since January 2016, nine months after the start of the Saudi-led aerial campaign, more than 60,000 people have been killed, about six times the U.N.'s official body count.
Meantime in Sweden, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi- supported Yemeni government have agreed to a prisoner swap, each side compiling lists of thousands of names for a total exchange of about 15,000 prisoners.
This is called a confidence building measure, encouraging trust between both sides. It seems they have a long way to go. It's an exaggeration to call these negotiations peace talks. Neither side is directly talking to the other. They're in separate rooms with the U.N. special envoy shuttling between them, consulting with both groups. To be sure, the agreement on prisoners is progress but the closing
session is scheduled for Thursday. And of all the desperate issues that need resolution, the fate of prisoners was a long way from the top of the list.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHANNES BRUWER, OUTGOING ICRC HEAD OF DELEGATION IN YEMEN: So if everything were to stop tomorrow, we would still have a very difficult time addressing the malnutrition and the increasing deferment (ph). If we're not to stop tomorrow, it's going to be so much more difficult because it's really deteriorating fast at the moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: On Monday, protesters gathered outside U.N. headquarters in Yemen's capital, demanding an end to the Saudi blockade of the country's --
VAUSE: -- main port of Hudaydah. The violence there has escalated as both sides fight for control, which means imports of vital medical supplies, food and humanitarian assistance have been dramatically reduced.
The U.N. has suggested both sides immediately withdraw with a joint committee set up to manage the city, which will then be declared neutral territory. Even as the talks continue in Sweden, the bombs are still falling on Hudaydah. And CNN has rare footage showing the immediate aftermath of an artillery strike.
Nima Elbagir has our report and a warning: there are graphic images in her report and you may find them disturbing.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An ambulance screeches up to one of the few remaining hospitals in Hudaydah. What we're about to show you is incredibly difficult to watch. In the jumble of bodies, a boy in yellow, searching for his mother. She's dead.
Little bodies are carried in, draped in blood-soaked cloths. Everywhere, shock and blood and death.
This man, searching for his wife. He finds, instead, the body of his 3-year-old sister. It's too much to take in.
"My wife?" he asks.
"In surgery. The baby is fine."
A glimmer of hope but all too quickly lost. "My mother?"
Even as the peace talks continue in Sweden between Yemen's warring parties, the U.S.-backed Saudi led coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels, so too does the violence on the ground. This footage was sent to CNN by the Houthi rebel-backed media.
Eyewitnesses tell CNN the members of this family were killed during an artillery strike under coalition air cover, a charge the coalition denies, saying the Houthis continue to target civilians in Hudaydah.
This is just a glimpse into what it's like almost every night in this besieged city. In spite of U.S. government promises in October to deliver a ceasefire within 30 days, that month has long since passed. Much of what was filmed here so graphic, we're not going to show it in full.
Outside, two little lifeless bodies side by side, waiting for loved ones to claim them. This man lists a litany of loss, his daughter and her son, his other daughter and her husband. It's too much.
Inside the boy in yellow finally finds his sister. As he comforts her, other children are carried out. There's just no more room at this hospital. Outside, his grandmother begins to wail and he attempts to comfort her. It's all too much -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.
VAUSE: A coalition spokesperson denies responsibility for the attack, telling CNN, "We have no knowledge of this and it's widely recognized that the Houthi militia is continuing to target civilians with all types of weapons in Hudaydah province and its cities."
OK. Well, it's almost reckon o'clock for two former members of President Trump's inner circle. One for the former campaign chairman have admitted in court they didn't know if he's lying. And the man who led the cheers to lock her up about Hillary Clinton is pleading with a judge, don't lock me up.
And from presidential fixer to flipper, just a few hours from now, Michael Cohen will learn how long he will spend in jail. Those details after the break.
[00:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause, with an update of the top stories this hour. France is on its highest security alert after a gunman opened fire at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, killing at least three people.
The 29-year-old suspect, who is still on the run, has been identified by police and has a criminal past and was on a terror watch list. British Prime Minister Theresa May, back in London, where she's reportedly facing a move to oust her as leader. British media quote sources are saying enough lawmakers from her Conservative Party have called for a no-confidence vote.
She spent the day trying to win concessions from E.U. leaders on her Brexit deal, only to be told there was no room for renegotiation of the withdrawal plan.
President Trump threatening a government shutdown of lawmakers who don't approve funding for his border wall with Mexico, the one they're meant to pay for. He had a heated meeting with top Democrats on Tuesday. Trump said he'd be proud to shut down the government for border security.
President Trump is also shrugging off the possibility that he could be impeached, telling Reuters, it's hard to impeach somebody who hasn't done anything wrong and has created the greatest economy in the history of our country. I'm not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened.
Something else the President is not worried about, prosecutors' assertions that multiple people who worked for him, had contact with Russians before and during the 2016 campaign. The President called that peanut stuff. He also claims the payments made to silence two women who allegedly had affairs with him, had nothing to do with the election.
So, there was no violation of campaign finance laws. But then, adding this, say even if those payments were, in fact, campaign contributions, they weren't illegal. It was more like a bureaucratic paperwork mistake.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has thrown the book at President Trump's Former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, saying he lied numerous times even after taking a plea deal and agreeing to cooperate. Now, Manafort's own lawyers are saying they don't know if he lied and they need to find out.
The judge says she wants more details from Mueller's team about why they think he lied. A hearing on whether Manafort breached his plea agreement is now set for January 25th.
And the man who was President Trump's so-called fixer, his former personal lawyer and bagman, Michael Cohen, will be sentenced in the coming hours. Federal prosecutors in New York say he should get substantial time in prison. Cohen is hoping for leniency based on his cooperation with the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, and his Russia investigation.
More details now from CNN's Gloria Borger, on Cohen's evolution from fixer to flipper.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY OF DONALD TRUMP: The words the media should be using to describe Mr. Trump, are generous --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He was the ultimate loyalist --
COHEN: -- principled --
BORGER: -- protector and defender.
COHEN: -- kind, humble, honest, and genuine.
BORGER: The Trump fixer, who said he would take a bullet for his idol, his boss.
COHEN: They say I'm Mr. Trump's Pit Bull. That I am his -- I'm his right-hand man. I mean, there's -- I've been called many different things around here.
BORGER: Now, in a plot twist worthy of Shakespeare, the fixer has flipped, with prosecutors saying he has provided relevant and useful information on contacts with persons connected to the White House. In his own conversations with individual number one, AKA candidate Donald Trump to criminally influence the election.
In more than 70 hours of interviews, Cohen confessed to his own financial crimes and past lies, and stands to pay the price.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a weak person, not a very smart person.
BORGER: A betrayed Trump says it's all a lie, the deceit only serving Cohen's self-interests.
TRUMP: Michael Cohen is lying and he is trying to get a reduced sentence.
[00:35:08] BORGER: But wait, just this past spring --
TRUMP: I always liked Michael.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you --
TRUMP: And he's a good person.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man is an honest, honorable lawyer.
BORGER: So what changed? Michael Cohen.
LANNY DAVIS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: This man has turned a corner in his life, has hit a reset button, and he's now dedicated to telling the truth.
BORGER: No longer dedicated to being Donald Trump's mini me, as he was, when he started working for the boss, more than a decade ago.
SAM NUNBERG, AIDE OF TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Michael was, I'd always like to say, the Ray Donovan of the office. LIEV SCHREIBER, ACTOR: I'll take care of it.
NUNBERG: He took care of what had to be taken care of. I don't know what had to be taken care of, but all I know is that Michael was taking care of it.
DAVID SCHWARTZ, FRIEND OF MICHAEL COHEN: He is the guy that you could call at 3:00 in the morning when you have a problem.
BORGER: Do you know stories of Donald Trump calling him at 3:00 in the morning?
SCHWARTZ: Donald Trump has called him at all hours of the night.
BORGER: He's not calling now, because Cohen is singing, admitting negotiations about Trump Tower Moscow continued during the presidential campaign, while Trump denied having any business interests in Russia. He says he was in touch with Trump's lawyers and White House staff as he prepared a false statement to Congress.
And Cohen says, at the direction of the candidate, he coordinated payoffs to women accusing Trump of sexual relations, even releasing a secret recording about one of them.
COHEN: When it comes time for the financing, which will be --
TRUMP: What financing?
BORGER: All part of the job.
COHEN: My job is, I protect Mr. Trump. That's what it is. If there's an issue that relates to Mr. Trump that is of concern to him, it's, of course, concern to me. And I will use my legal skills within which to protect Mr. Trump to the best of my ability.
It's going to be my absolute pleasure to serve you with a $500 million-dollar lawsuit.
BORGER: Often with threats, as in this 2015 conversation with a reporter.
COHEN: I'm warning you, tread very (BLEEP) lightly because what I'm going to do to you is going to be (BLEEP) disgusting. Do you understand me?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, BIOGRAPHER OF TRUMP: This is also part of the Trump-Cohen method is, you skate on the edge of what's reasonable and maybe even on the edge of what's ethical or legal.
BORGER: Cohen, a sometimes Democrat, first came to Trump's attention after buying apartments in Trump developments. Then, went to the mat for Trump against one of his condo boards and won.
SCHWARTZ: Trump loved him for it. I mean, that was the beginning of it. And then after that, they became close. It was much more than an attorney-client relationship. It was something much deeper, almost father and son kind of -- kind of thing.
BORGER: For Trump, hiring Cohen wasn't about pedigree. Cohen, who was 52, got his degree from Western Michigan's Cooley Law School, and eventually entered the less than genteel world of New York taxi cab medallions.
NUNBERG: If you look at where Michael came from, in his legal career, before he started working for Trump org, it wasn't like he came from a white shoe law firm. He came from, you know, a hard-nosed -- a hard- nosed New York trial firm.
TRUMP: I will faithfully execute.
BORGER: But when Trump became president, he did not bring his brash wingman to Washington.
BORGER: Do you think he wanted to be in the White House, be White House counsel or --
D'ANTONIO: There must have been a part of him that was dreaming of a great job at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but he's also the guy who not only knows where all the bodies are buried, he buried a lot of them himself, and that, ironically, disqualified him.
BORGER: Maybe from working in the White House, but not from working with Bob Mueller. I'm told, Cohen himself, pushed for this sentencing now, because he wants to get on with his life. But that doesn't necessarily mean he'll stop helping prosecutors as they continue to investigate the President.
Gloria Borger, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: Up next here, guardians of the truth, the journalists, in the -- on the front lines, on the war on truth, risking everything for stories, the world needs to hear, honored by TIME Magazine as Person of the Year.
[00:40:00] VAUSE: TIME Magazine has named a group of journalists who've been targeted for their work as the 2018 Person of the Year. They're calling the issue, The Guardians and the War on Truth. TIME has put together four separate magazine covers featuring four journalists and one news organization.
That group includes Jamal Khashoggi from The Washington Post, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Also, on one cover, Maria Ressa, the Chief Executive of the Philippine news website, Rappler, a Former Bureau Chief for CNN. She's been charged with tax evasion after publishing stories, critical, of the Philippine president. The case critics say it is part of a crackdown on dissent.
Ressa spoke to my colleagues, Amara Walker and Michael Holmes. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
MARIA RESSA, CEO, RAPPLER: I think what you're seeing is when the moral beacon of democracy, when the leader of that country allows impunity. I mean, the murder of Khashoggi is shocking to all journalists around the world, right?
That should not have been allowed to happen. Once it did, there should have been concrete action that stops the impunity. And I think that's the -- that's what we have to do now. We have to say these acts that are perpetrated by people who are democratically elected, but who continue to cross the line, who continue to act unconstitutionally.
In the case of the United States, you have institutions that are strong enough to fight back. In the case of the Philippines, our institutions were weak at best, and now, we have an extremely powerful president who controls the executive, the legislative, and by the time he ends office, he will appoint 13 of 15 Supreme Court justices.
A real reason why we're all connected, if you take a look, when President Trump called CNN and the New York Times, fake news, a week later, President Duterte called Rappler, fake news.
And when President Duterte banned Pia Ranada, our palace reporter, and then, subsequently, all of Rappler, from our palace, from the White -- our White House, Malacanang Palace, well, a few months later, President Trump tried to do the same thing to CNN.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Yes, with Jim Acosta.
RESSA: They learn from each other. It's -- it is --
AMARA WALKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Sure do.
RESSA: -- a playbook, right?
VAUSE: And the Capital Gazette Paper, where a gunman killed five employees, this year, was also singled out, as well as two Reuters journalists arrested late last year, in Myanmar.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is next. You're watching CNN.
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