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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Interview with Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan; Michael Cohen Expected to Publicly Testify on Trump's Businesses, Trump Org. CFO Granted Immunity, Could Be Key Figure. Aired on 7-8p ET
Aired February 26, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Thanks for watching. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN: OutFront next breaking news, Michael Cohen speaking the cameras moments ago after what one Senator called an extensive grilling nine hours. Lawmakers surprised by what he revealed. What did he say? Plus, Cohen going live tomorrow for all of us to see, publicly testifying. Trump's former fixer going to be there and one Congresswoman leading the questioning is OutFront. And President Trump about to sit down with Kim Jong-Un, but is Trump just too focused on what's happening back at home? Let's go OutFront.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news, President Trump's longtime fixer, his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, just departing a nine-hour session, taking questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I want to thank you all for sticking around here awaiting for me. At this point in time I really appreciate the opportunity that was given to me to clear the record, and to tell the truth and I look forward to tomorrow to being able to, in my voice, to tell the American people my story and I'm going to let the American people decide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The top Democratic Committee Senator Mark Warner says today's testimony was important.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK WARNER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE VICE CHAIRMAN: Two years ago when this investigation started, I said it may be the most important thing I'm involved in, in my public life in the Senate and nothing I've heard today dissuades me from that view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Meantime, Republican Senator Susan Collins saying she's surprised by Cohen's testimony and that he came across as "very different guy." Now, we're told the nine hours were very intense and the grilling was extensive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the most important thing you can learn today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Truth.
ROY WYDEN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: What I intend to keep focused on is untangling the very complicated financial arrangements between Donald Trump and Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Trump's finances, his businesses, his family, his dealings with Russia absolutely nothing was off-limits today. Now, Senator Kamala Harris left the classified hearing. She said she learned something new. What was it? Well, we may find out because there's only 15 hours before Cohen is back and this time it will be in front of the House Oversight Committee. It will be his final public testimony before heading to prison.
Remember, that committee is going to be with me in just a moment. But one thing we know, President Trump is going to be glued to Cohen's testimony tomorrow. With senior White House official telling CNN that Trump plans to stay up overnight in Hanoi, not sleep at all, because he wants to watch Michael Cohen.
Manu Raju is OutFront live on Capitol Hill. And Manu, obviously, that's a hugely significant thing that the President not even able to sleep focusing on Cohen and not Kim. But let's start with what you're learning about what happened today. He just came out of that room at the Senate Intelligence Committee, what happened inside?
MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, there's extensive discussion about the lies that Michael Cohen made to the same committee back in 2017 when he discussed those conversations about the Trump Tower Moscow project that the Trump Organization was pursuing. And at that time, when he initially testified, he downplayed that he said that those discussions ended in January of 2016.
Well, then he later, of course, admitted to lying to this committee which is a crime saying that they're much more extensive than they were in the past, and that they occurred up until June of 2016 right at the onset of that Russian interference campaign in the 2016 election. Well, Erin, I'm told behind closed-doors he apologized to this committee. He expressed contrition. He explained those remarks why he lied.
Now, the question - there are still a lot of questions, because this is classified testimony. Members of Congress who attended did not want to get into too much detail about exactly what happened and about the President's involvement in this. And the question is, did he implicate the President further in some crimes? Did he provide more documents to this committee to back up his claims? Those are still unanswered questions at this point about what he said.
It certainly unnerved some Democrats on the committee, Republicans are not commenting other than Richard Burr, the Chairman of the committee saying he's not going to worry about Michael Cohen when he was asked, it's the President should worry about Michael Cohen.
BURNETT: So - and, obviously, unclear sort of what he meant there. I mean you, Manu, did see Cohen on his way out of the hearing and as I've said it was nine hours, what was his mood like up close?
RAJU: He did not want to talk at length. He want to only make a very brief statement. He said that he appreciated the press sticking around for him. He said that he's looking forward to the opportunity to tell his story tomorrow.
I asked him, "Did the President commit any crimes in office?" A yes or no question, what we expect him to suggest tomorrow, alleged tomorrow he would not answer that question. I asked if he provided any documents, tapes, anything like this to the Senate Intelligence Committee where other committees did not want to answer that question or others from other reporters.
So we'll see how he responds to those same questions tomorrow, but expect him to focus not just on - not on the Russia investigation which is supposed to be classified, but on the conversations about that hush money scheme that occurred in 2016 to silence those affairs of those women who are going to come out right before the elections. Those are going to be a major area of focus at tomorrow's hearing, Erin.
BURNETT: Yes, Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. Thank you so much, Manu. And OutFront tonight, the Democratic Vice Chair of the Oversight Committee that, of course, is where Michael Cohen will appear tomorrow. They'll be interviewing him publicly, Congressman Katie Hill is with me. Good to have you back. I appreciate your time, Congresswoman.
KATIE HILL, VICE CHAIR, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Thank you.
BURNETT: So, okay, my understanding there is obviously 42 members on your committee, everybody is going to get five minutes, each person to question Michael Cohen. What are you going to do with your time?
HILL: Well, my focus is really going to be about whether the President committed a crime or if there are implications of him committing a crime while he was in office. And I think we need to be asking the questions that are going to elucidate that for us and lead us potentially to where we need to go next with the investigation, what other witnesses we might need to call. And ultimately give some light to the American people as to what is happening.
And I think so much of this has been done behind closed-doors and I also truly believe that this has been a really confusing process for many Americans. They thought that this was about partisan bickering and I don't think that's true. I think we need to show in clear form what happened and what we need to do to move forward.
BURNETT: So, obviously, he had a long day today, nine hours and heading back now, and he's going to be back in just hours in front of your committee. How long is it going to go? I mean, the five minutes going to be enough or as the Vice Chair do you think there'll be a second round? You're going to keep him as long as you need to keep him?
HILL: It's a great question and ultimately it's up to the Chair, Mr. Cummings. But I think it will go a long time. I mean, it's a large committee. Everyone I would imagine is going to use their entire time and on our side we really want to give Mr. Cohen the space to really share his side of the story. And again it's up to the American people to decide whether they believe it or not and it's up to us to decide where we go from here.
BURNETT: So let me ask you, you mentioned your focus is on the crimes in office, which is the core of what would need to be proven if there is an impeachment proceeding that would go anywhere when you're dealing with Republicans and not just have it be a political process. Do you believe that Cohen has evidence that - whether it's tapes or emails or has he submitted anything that would prove there were crimes committed by the President while he was in office, evidence that we have not yet heard about?
HILL: I think that's exactly what we're hoping to find out tomorrow and if we get indications of that, that's going to lead us to exactly the next steps in this process within the Oversight Committee and within the other committees that are going through this process with Mr. Cohen as well. So we need to find out what he says and if there are suggestions that there is corroborating evidence, then we need to take this investigation wherever it goes.
BURNETT: And your role as the Vice Chair, are you aware that he submitted anything that's going to back up or support what he may say tomorrow, documentation tapes of any sort?
HILL: I am not aware of that at this point. I think that there's been - much of that will come after the fact.
BURNETT: So part of the reason, obviously, this has become so partisan, is that Michael Cohen obviously has lied. He is an admitted liar. He apologized to the Senate Intelligence Committee today for lying to them.
The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders put out a statement today, Congresswoman, saying, "Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements. Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It's laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies."
Do you trust him? Do you think that - I mean, he's obviously not a convicted liar, he's an admitted liar. But he's a liar, are you worried that he will not tell the truth tomorrow? HILL: Well, look first of all I think when you're going to prison you
don't have a whole lot to lose anymore. Second of all, when he was lying in the first place it was to protect the President, so the irony of the White House saying that he's a liar is hilarious to me.
And then I think thirdly my - one of my colleagues made a great point yesterday when we're talking and he said, "Of course we've heard about him lying. We've heard about so many members of the Trump administration lying, including the President himself. But at what point do you continue to punish somebody for when they stop lying?"
Like this is when we have to allow somebody the space to admit that he lied and tried to make reparations for that.
BURNETT: So have you spoken with anyone who questioned Cohen today? Obviously, in that nine-hour session, Senator Campbell Harris, as I've quoted saying she did indeed learn something new. Do you know what was learned?
HILL: No, I do not yet. I think we're all really respecting each other's individual purviews within the committees and we're being very careful in the open hearing not to potentially interfere with what might be an ongoing investigation. So that's why we have our specific lanes and it's really important to us to adhere to that.
BURNETT: I want to ask you about something that Republican Trump ally Congressman Matt Gaetz said today. In a tweet he wrote, "Hey, Michael Cohen, do your wife and father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she'll remain faithful when you're in prison. She's about to learn a lot."
HILL: Yes. I mean, it's crazy to me that witness tampering can just happen in the open now and it seems to be without any kind of repercussion. So I just --
BURNETT: And you do believe it is witness tampering?
HILL: I mean look, what else can it be? It's certainly a threat that's being made. Personally, I think it's an invalid threat. I mean it's not something that I think should matter, but Mr. Cohen has just been berated over, and over, and over by people who are clearly trying to protect President, and people who are clearly trying to keep him from testifying in the open. You shouldn't be afraid of what he has to say and if you are, then to me that's a cause for suspicion.
BURNETT: And you think that Matt Gaetz is going to - that's what he's going to talk about tomorrow? He is going to be talking about affairs and things like that, I mean is that what some of your colleagues are going to bring into the table?
HILL: I mean I'm sure on the Republican side, they're going to do anything they can to distract from the real issues at hand. But we're going to do everything that we can to bring it back to what we should be focusing on and hopefully that tactic of distraction which is one that they learned from the President of the United States can be called out for what it is and people will focus on what they should be focusing on.
BURNETT: All right, and of course we'll see if there is anything to that threat whether Gaetz has some sort of a colleague on your committee or something. Obviously, he's not technically been on the committee. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Congresswoman.
HILL: Thank you so much for having me here.
BURNETT: And next, what is it like to take on the President of the United States? John Dean, the former Nixon White House Counsel is OutFront. Plus, President Trump may be a half a world away, but a source says he will be watching Cohen testify. Could that distraction give Kim Jong-Un the upper hand? And the Republican Member of Congress and close Trump ally now threatening Michael Cohen just hours before his testimony.
New tonight, Michael Cohen behind closed-doors, it was nine hours and it's just the beginning. Senator Susan Collins says Cohen has "undergone" "extensive grilling" and as I said it's just day one, there are three; today, tomorrow and Thursday on Capitol Hill for Cohen. He's just hours away from day two. That is the public questioning that we all will see.
OutFront now, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean who's also given advice to Cohen's legal team about tomorrow's public hearing, former New Jersey Attorney General, Anne Milgram, and Pulitzer Prize- winning reporter, David Cay Johnston, the author of the Making of Donald Trump.
Okay, Anne, so Michael Cohen is done, but it was nine hours. I mean that's grueling and exhausting for anyone. He's going to be tired tomorrow and that, of course, is when the world is going to be watching.
ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes.
BURNETT: Tomorrow is going to be watching.
MILGRAM: Yes. Tomorrow is going to be an intense day and I don't know if it'll go nine hours, but it's going to be a long day and I think pretty intense and sort of - there'll be a lot of fighting, I guess, is the way I would say it. He's going to be pushed. The Democrats are going to have a lot of information they want to get out of him. There's a lot of potentially, I think, explosive information that Michael Cohen has.
And then the Republicans are going to want to cross-examine him and go through step by step how many lies he's told and try to destroy his credibility. And so it's going to be - I think it's going to be fascinating for us to watch. BURNETT: Well, it's going to be fascinating, it'd be theatrical. I
mean, it's going to be intense. John Dean, you have been providing advice, what do you expect tomorrow?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, I am not sure. We do have some information about what he's going to do. You were discussing earlier with the Congressman whether he would accuse the President of crimes. Well, Lanny Davis tells me he will, so that's one of the things to anticipate.
BURNETT: Crimes while in office.
DEAN: While in office, yes, which is interesting to say the least. What I've really been talking about with them though is not the substance of their testimony, rather the process matters, things that I thought and as once a former committee counsel in the House Judiciary Committee, and then as a very long-term witness, that sitting alone at the table is important, holding your statement as long as you can so the other side can't chew it up, giving them kind of process advice like that is what I've mainly done.
BURNETT: And John, what do you think, you've been there before, you've testified before Congress in these long sessions, does Cohen have the stamina? I mean, you're talking about nine hours today, even if it's not that long tomorrow which it may be, but it's going to be incredibly intense and public, and then there's another day. Does he have the stamina for this?
DEAN: It does take stamina and there's also just the tension of cross-examination. But I must say one thing, I testified for two weeks in a courtroom as the lead witness against President Nixon's former top aides and that was much more stressful than before the Senate where there's a certain give-and-take and it's a little looser, there are no rules of evidence, so it's a different atmosphere.
I think the hardest thing for me was they forced me to read my entire statement. It was 60,000 words. Had I known I would have never written 60,000 words, it would have been more of like 6,000 words, but it's going to be an ordeal.
But the most important thing I've got to say is this is the beginning of educating the public as to what really was going on, because I think Michael will tell the truth.
BURNETT: And as we've pointed out, he doesn't have much to lose at this point. He's already going to prison. He was just disbarred today.
DEAN: He has nothing to lose if he lies.
BURNETT: Yes and things could get even worse. I mean, David, today we know Russia-related issues were on the table. It was behind closed-doors. He had lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee before admittedly and he had to answer those questions.
Tomorrow though in front of the cameras, it is perhaps the bigger issue, the business conflicts of interest, hush money payments, could that be more damaging?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP: I think this could be much more damaging. Cohen is in a position to tell us about 10 years of Donald's cheating people, which he's done his whole life of dishonest business dealings.
He's in a position to tell us about other people who may have been paid for various reasons to keep quiet or go away, to tell us about false filings which Donald has done repeatedly on tax returns and other government documents and those are crimes, because you sign these documents under penalty of perjury.
So I think there's a lot to come out tomorrow, particularly about whether Donald is actually wealthy or as I've said repeatedly he appears to be wealthy, because there's not one scintilla of verifiable evidence and never has been that he's a billionaire, but there's lots of evidence that he's always grubbing for cash.
BURNETT: So Anne, when you take all of this as I've pointed out, he doesn't have much to lose when he says he'll tell the truth. He's going to prison. It was announced today that he's going to be disbarred. We all know, God knows he's not getting a pardon, okay?
BURNETT: So does that mean he's going to tell the truth? Can we count on that? I mean obviously that's going to be a partisan thing. It's going to put your lens on, but as a lawyer, as an Attorney General, what do you think?
MILGRAM: So I would expect that he is going to come in and be truthful for a number of reasons. First of all he's made the decision to plead guilty, to take responsibility, to say, "I lied," and in trials and in criminal prosecutions you use, and this is not one, but you use cooperators all of the time. People who have lied, who have committed crimes, but you want their story because they are the insider.
And to the points that are just been made, he's the guy that can tell us everything about the business of the President during the campaign, potentially after the campaign. So just because he's told a lie it doesn't mean he won't be credible. The other point which I think is really important is that he could be prosecuted if he lied. We've already seen him lie to Congress once and he's been convicted of that crime.
BURNETT: Each lie would be a new thing.
MILGRAM: Yes, and so ...
BURNETT: So we're talking more prison time, so it does have more - okay.
MILGRAM: ... he's represented by a counsel. I would expect him to be truthful tomorrow.
BURNETT: So, David, Cohen never became a member of the Trump administration, but you just heard what John said, that he believes that there's going to be, at least, the allegation made that the President broke the law, committed crimes while President. You've been covering this for a very long time, do you think Cohen may have any information, real evidence to share tomorrow that Donald Trump broke the law as President?
JOHNSTON: Well, the way the payments were made in the Stormy Daniels case maybe what we're talking about, but Lanny Davis who is a longtime player in this field would not be saying what John reported and some others have reported unless he figured there was something substantial there to make the case. But does it really matter to us whether the President of the United States committed crimes while he was running for President, in the run-up to his running for President or while he was in office and all of those would need --
BURNETT: Well, for impeachment it could matter hugely, right?
JOHNSTON: It could matter hugely.
JOHNSTON: But there aren't enough votes to the Senate to convict him. So I think impeachment is unlikely, given the current set of facts today.
BURNETT: John, you're shaking your head.
DEAN: What I was shaking my head is that prior crimes can be impeached, that happened to a federal judge not too long ago. They reached back for criminal behavior before he went on the bench and impeached him, so there is a precedent.
But I don't think Michael is in an impeachment hearing at this point. I think these will be broad statements. I think that what David mentions is the payments to Stormy Daniels and the reimbursements. Some of those look like they could have stretched into the time he was in the White House and therefore he might have been signing checks to violate the campaign laws.
BURNETT: So I want to just play for you, because these moments, you never know when these moments come, the moments upon which a presidency can turn. John, you were the creator of one of those moments for Richard Nixon. This is a moment when you were testifying and you were talking about when you told Nixon to come clean.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: I began by telling the President that there was a cancer growing on the presidency and if the cancer was not removed, the President himself would be killed by it. I also told him that it was important that this cancer be removed immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Do you think Cohen's testimony could be a similar moment, a
turning point for President Trump, John, tomorrow?
DEAN: It could be, particularly since Lanny has told me that he has testimony regarding criminal behaviors since the man has become President and that could certainly make it a turning point. I think I agree he will be truthful. He has nothing to gain by lying at this point. So I think he'll lay it out.
I think the Republicans will try to chew him up, that's what they tried to do to me. That's what you do to an adverse witness and it won't be pretty all of it tomorrow.
BURNETT: All right, well, I'll be watching. Thank you all very much. And next, President Trump just hours away from meeting Kim Jong-Un in Vietnam, but his attention is far away. His attention is on Michael Cohen. Plus, breaking news, the House just voting to overturn Trump's national emergency. Trump is now threatening his first veto of his presidency. The Republican who co-sponsored the bill to take on Trump on this is OutFront.
Tonight, "They can't stop him." That's what White House officials are saying about the possibility that President Trump will be watching. His former fixer, his personal lawyer Michael Cohen testifying in public on Capitol Hill tomorrow. President Trump, of course, is in Hanoi and in a few hours he'll be meeting face-to-face with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un.
Officials tell CNN though that expectation is the President will be tuning in to Cohen. Kaitlan Collins is in Hanoi. And Kaitlan, obviously, just to state the obvious here, it's the opposite side of the world, so if he's watching he's not sleeping, he's up all night. How closely is the President going to be watching Cohen?
[19:30:03] KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the White House is trying to downplay Michael Cohen's testimony, even putting out a statement from Sarah Sanders earlier, saying it's going to be just another opportunity for him to spread his lies.
But the bottom line is they're going to be watching. We knew White House officials back in D.C. will be watching so they can brief the president on anything that Michael Cohen says, but also, Erin, there's a pretty good chance the president himself will be watching. This is a president who doesn't sleep often at night, and Michael Cohen's testimony is going to air here in Hanoi around 10 p.m. local.
And just take a look at the president's schedule. He's getting kicked off and meeting with Kim Jong-un for the first time later on Wednesday evening, Hanoi time. They're going to have a one-on-one, a meet-and- greet and a dinner with a few of their delegates there. But after that, the president is going to wrap up by 9:00 and be back at his hotel. So, that's about an hour before Michael Cohen will start testifying on Capitol Hill. So, there's certainly a chance that the president will be watching to
see what it is that Michael Cohen, someone who he has tried to discredit multiple times, even though it was someone who was once quite close to him, is going to say to him on Capitol Hill while he's under oath.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much, live in Hanoi, with the president.
And now, former U.S. ambassador to the NATO, Nicholas Burns, and former adviser to four presidents, David Gergen.
Ambassador, let me start with you. Look, you know, you just heard advisers say they can't stop Trump from staying up all night to watch Cohen. How much of a risk would that be during this high stakes summit with Kim?
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, I think, Erin, obviously, that's going to be a distraction for the president. Michael Cohen represents a possible extension threat to the Trump presidency. We know how thin-skinned the president he is and focused on this. So, it's going to be a distraction, and the president needs to be obviously focused on Kim Jong-un because these are high-stake negotiations.
The other possibility here, of course, is that president might try to engineer a summit result that might try to overshadow the Cohen testimony. This is a marathon. And we've got a long way to go with the North Koreans. So, I hope the president isn't going to entertain any ill-advised concessions to Kim because Kim doesn't deserve them. He hasn't done anything to deserve them yet.
BURNETT: So, I mean, David, how concerned should we be that President Trump does something rash, something dramatic in Vietnam to draw attention away from Cohen?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We should be concerned. I agree with every word that Nick just said.
Listen, my experience, after you have your first set of summit meetings and you're in two-part sessions, in effect, when you end the first set of conferring conversations, it's like half time in a football or basketball game, you go in the locker room, you figure out what have we done right, what have we done wrong, what should we do in the second session? That is a very, very important part of symmetry that the president can be surrounded by high-level people who can prepare him for that really crucial second half.
And then there's issue of concern, that's already voiced about his general negotiating posture toward Kim, that in a search for a good headlines. And remember, "The Washington Post" just 24 hours ago reported that he thought his first summit with Kim was gold in television ratings, that that will drive him to cut a deal that gives away more than he gets. And I think that is a very legitimate concern. BURNETT: Well, you know, Ambassador, here's the reality of it. The
ratings matter to him, we all know that, the pageantry, the pomp and circumstance, right? He wanted the second summit with Kim in no small part because of the first one, right?
It was the ratings gold, the wall-to-wall historic coverage. I mean, everybody was watching. But now, here he is, there's big moment in Hanoi, and he's not getting the coverage he was getting before, and all the ratings and all the eyeballs are on Michael Cohen.
So how hard is that for him?
BURNS: I think it's very difficult. I think the president is right to be trying to negotiate. It's certainly better than the war of words of 2017.
BURNS: But it's very difficult, because the North Koreans have not even stated where their nuclear weapons are, their fissile material. That's step one in negotiations. There's no apparent timeline to dismantle them.
So, you got to wonder if the president agrees to a peace agreement to replace the armistice of 1953, have we given away too much and then we got nothing in return? I think that's going to worry people when we see the first reports coming out of Vietnam.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, obviously, David, the first thing would be write a list of what you've got, right, and allowing someone to go verify that. Obviously, nothing like that has happened.
How much is Kim trying to take advantage of Trump's vulnerability right now?
GERGEN: Well, we know that Kim is playing very artfully to flatter him, to create this close special relationship, we've fallen in love, just as Abe of Japan has figured it out and made strides with Trump by sort of ingratiating himself.
[19:35:06] So, I think that's the bigger issue that Trump actually may believe that they have love notes, and valentines, that most presidents would just throw away, forget it, let's get down to the real issues here.
But I do think that coming into this, Kim is already at some advantage because, as Nick says, he hasn't given anything away and yet he's gotten two summits with the most important leader in the world with doing very little for it. That's the reason people are already concerned in the national security community about how much are we really -- how tough are we really being in these negotiations.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both so very much.
GERGEN: Thank you. BURNETT: And next, a sitting member of Congress, staunch Trump ally
threatening Michael Cohen just hours before his public testimony. Is it witness tampering?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Congressman, does your tweet amount to witness tampering?
REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: Absolutely not. It's witness testing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, Cohen expected to talk about Trump's finances. The only other person who may know as much as Cohen does is the chief financial officers of the Trump organization, Allen Weisselberg. Who is he?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: My chief finance officer, Allen Weisselberg.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:40:20] BURNETT: Breaking news, Republican Trump ally Congressman Matt Gaetz is threatening Michael Cohen who is set to give public testimony tomorrow on Capitol Hill. Gaetz tweeting: Hey, Michael Cohen, do your wife and father-in-law know about your girl friends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she'll remain faithful when you're in prison? She's about to learn a lot.
He now was on the floor of Congress to double down on that statement. Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell says this is absolutely witness intimidation and that, quote, the House Ethics must investigate this disgrace and stain on our institution.
OUTFRONT now, Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan who sits on the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Cohen will be appearing before you tomorrow. You're going to get the opportunity to ask him questions, obviously, Congressman Gaetz is not.
What do you think of that tweet? Do you know what he's talking about?
REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI), OVERSIGHT AND REFORM COMMITTEE: I don't know what he's talking about specifically and I can't tell you what he was thinking by doing the tweet. He's not a shy guy and that's all I can say about it really.
BURNETT: I mean, you know, I guess my reaction to you is you're going to be asking questions, he's not. Are you frustrated that he's wading in and doing this? I mean, would you -- what is this -- he says it's witness testing, not witness tampering. AMASH: Yes, I don't know what the legal standard is. It's not the
kind of thing that I think members of Congress should be doing. Certainly not something I would ever do. I don't think it's particularly helpful to what we're trying to do tomorrow.
BURNETT: So, obviously the question is what you're going to be asking tomorrow, making it clear you wouldn't ask anything along those lines. What are you going to be asking?
AMASH: So I just want to get to the truth. We'd like to find out whether he knows anything about illegality during this administration and let's get to the truth of it and hear what he has to say. Now, he's a person who is known to be a liar and he has a lot of -- a lot to overcome there but maybe he's got corroborating evidence and we'd like to hear from him.
BURNETT: And, you know, just talking to the former attorney general of New Jersey and others, John Dean was talking, their view is the guy's not going to lie because he is an admitted liar, because he's going to prison, because if he lies again, he's going to go to prison for even longer. He's been disbarred.
Do you expect him to tell the truth? Is that your base? When he comes out and makes allegations tomorrow, as we understand that he will, that it's going to be the truth?
AMASH: Well, I hope he is truthful. You never know. Somebody who has a habit of lying over many years may not be able to break that habit. But you're hopeful he'll tell the truth. I'd like to know, you know, why did the president hire him? I'd like to know what it is about him that the president wanted in an employee. So, let's hear from him and find out.
BURNETT: Obviously =, a big question is going to be when you say "crimes while in office".
BURNETT: Do you have a standard on what crime? Is any crime in office in your view impeachable because it is a crime and the president of the United States should not be committing a crime or do you have a standard where some crimes might be impeachable, but some crimes would be OK in your view?
AMASH: I haven't worked through all the various crimes that would be impeachable versus non-impeachable. I think, obviously, a felony would be serious, anyone committing a felony. But, you know, you want to have a president who is honest and not involved in criminal activity and we hope that's the case.
BURNETT: So when you say "felony," would you count payments to Stormy Daniels on that line, given it was campaign finance out there on campaign, or in your view it was before, you don't like to put it, I'm trying to understand when you say in office, you mean from January of 2017? AMASH: Yes, I think it's most important to know about things that
have happened in office, but certainly something doesn't have to be a crime to be impeachable. It can be something that Congress defines as a crime, something that is not worthy of the presidency. The Constitution isn't direct about that. So I think it could be broader than just a crime that happened while in office.
BURNETT: All right, which is an important thing. Thank you for explaining that.
I want to turn to the other breaking news that just happened, Congress issuing that massive rebuke, right, of the president's national declaration about the wall, overwhelmingly passing a bill that would terminate that declaration.
[19:45:07] You were the only Republican co-sponsor, 13 Republicans voted with Democrats. So, that's only 13. But you're a co-sponsor.
My question to you is what made you choose to do that, to take on the president on this issue, Congressman?
AMASH: This was not a difficult within. I took on President Obama on many, many issues related to executive overreach.
And this was a very clear case of executive overreach. The legislative branch is charged with appropriations. The legislative branch has this power. We can't delegate it to the executive branch.
This is a case where even if the law says that the president has been given this power, I don't think Congress is capable of granting that power under our Constitution. We have a separation of powers under our Constitution and we're not able to grant that kind of delegation. So, it was pretty clear cut for me and not a difficult vote.
BURNETT: OK. Pretty clear cut for you and it should be pretty clear cut for your colleagues about executive overreach that you point out you made with President Obama. They also made that point. Here's a few of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It's been the pattern of the Obama presidency over and over again to disregard the Congress, disregard the law.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is tremendous presidential overreach. I will try to defund the effort for him to do it alone.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: If the president truly follows through, he will have issued a rebuke to his own stated view of democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Are you disappointed that to so many Republicans, it appears to matter who's the president when it comes to whether they stand on principles of the Constitution?
AMASH: Yes, of course. I think the Democrats do the same thing to be frank. The Democrats are against the president on this but they were with President Obama.
So, it's not just one party that does this. Certainly I'm upset with the Republicans. I don't think they should be supporting the president in an action that I think is clearly executive overreach.
But this is how it works on Capitol Hill. It's really unfortunate that partisan leanings tend to overcome principles time and again.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time. Thanks so much, Congressman.
AMASH: Thanks, Erin. Appreciate it.
BURNETT: And next, he could be a major top being of discussion when Michael Cohen testifies tomorrow, the president's chief finance officers, a man who knows Trump's finances inside and out. How important, how dangerous could he be to President Trump?
Plus, lace up, Kim Jong-un's men in black are back.
[19:51:26] BURNETT: One name sure to come up in Michael Cohen's testimony tomorrow is Trump Organization's CFO Allen Weisselberg. He's been granted immunity in the probe into Cohen's hush money payments. And he's the man who one former Trump Organization executive says, quote, where all the financial bodies are buried.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TRUMP: Replacing George this week is my chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long before "The Apprentice", during the campaign and throughout Donald Trump's term, the Trump family's top money man has been Allen Weisselberg, a person who knows every deal, anything and everything that's been done, a Trump employee told CNN, for a president under investigation, the ultimate nightmare.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Well have to pay --
COHEN: No. No, no, no.
FOREMAN: Weisselberg's name came up when Donald Trump and his then attorney Michael Cohen discussed what Cohen says was hush money for a woman alleging an affair. Trump has denied wrongdoing but Weisselberg could confirm if Trump did or did not order the payments and violate campaign finance laws.
COHEN: I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to setup the whole thing up with funding.
TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?
If you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for, right?
FOREMAN: Trump has disparaged giving insiders immunity for testimony, and Weisselberg's deal is only in regard to Cohen. But the president's foes believe if the relationship is extended, he could open the door to many secrets about Trump's empire.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Nobody knows where the money has gone better than he does as the CFO of the Trump Organization.
FOREMAN: As CFO, Weisselberg likely has knowledge of Trump's tax returns, documents traditionally released by all presidents but not this one.
TRUMP: They're under audit. They have been for a long time.
FOREMAN: Weisselberg could have information about allegations of shady business deals, possible misuse of inaugural funds and the financial dealings of the now defunct Trump charity. He's handled personal finances for the Trumps, too. So far, the president says he believes Weisselberg has not betrayed him.
TRUMP: A hundred percent he didn't.
TRUMP: He's a wonderful guy.
FOREMAN: But others think the deal with the money man could yet bring big returns.
FOREMAN: It is not clear how much Weisselberg might tell investigators and so far we don't know of him saying anything damaging to President Trump. But the mere fact he's talking to them about Trump and all of his deals possibly sharing information Trump has vigorously fought to keep private is a big deal in itself -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Tom, thank you.
And next, Jeanne on Kim Jong-un's dashing security detail.
[19:57:53] BURNETT: Tonight, Kim Jong-un body's guards probably wish they had a good pair of on the job running shoes. Take a look with Jeanne.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On your mark get set, go.
The running bodyguards are back. The men in black, a dozen elite guards who jog alongside Kim Jong-un's Mercedes.
And when a limo picks up enough speed, they fall back and pile into their own vehicles, hand picked reportedly for their marksmanship, their martial arts skill, their looks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From now on hotties only.
MOOS: They became a thing in previous summits attended by the great leader and caught on with Conan.
CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: OK, that's me.
MOOS: Kim's body guards aren't the only ones running. When he arrived in Vietnam, Kim headed down the red carpet minus his translator who then had to sprint to catch up, sprint like his life depended on it. Like someone lit a fire under him.
And speaking of lighting a fire, Chairman Kim was nabbed on camera lighting a cigarette. That's his sister holding the crystal ashtray. He was taking a smoking break on a train platform during his trip. Even dictators have to smoke outside.
Not a good example for your running bodyguards.
And then there was a guy who wasn't running, a guy who ended up getting run out of town. You know it's a Kim Jong-un look alike when he kisses Donald Trump on the mouth. Vietnamese officials deported the lookalike after the pair were detained.
HOWARD X, KIM JONG UN IMPERSONATOR: What is to be expected of a one- party state with no sense of humor?
MOOS: Authorities say his visa was invalid. Impersonators caused mayhem. When they strolled into an upscale hotel, police yanked away photographers. Fake Kim enjoyed the commotion, but he did have one complaint.
HOWARD X: Mr. Kim Jong-un, please fix your haircut. It's awful, OK? I do have a private life, and when I go out, it's not very sexy.
MOOS: But he's so sexy at a summit, he could have used a few of these guys.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: The scrum is awesome.
Thanks so much to all of you for watching.
Anderson starts now.