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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Michael Cohen Expected To Begin Testifying Monday; Appeals Court Upholds Steve Bannon's Contempt Conviction For Defying January Committee Subpoena; New Book Exposes How Big Money Took Over Big Government. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 10, 2024 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: They're saying that we're experiencing a level four out of five conditions right now, the last watch like that was 19 years ago.

And the downside of these storms is the damage that they can cause. One actually knocked out the power grid in Quebec back in 1989.

A similar event today could cause trillions of dollars worth of damage.

So don't miss our special tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN "NEWSNIGHT", "Solar Storm", with Abby Phillip and Bill Weir, only on CNN.

And THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Next up on the witness stand, the people plan to call Michael Dean Cohen.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Donald Trump's former lawyer, known as the fixer, the next star witness in line in the New York hush money cover up case.

What is the impact of this trial on Trump himself? I'll ask one of his attorneys from the 2021 impeachment.

Plus, former Trump White House aide Anthony Scaramucci will be here for his perspective.

And, old Trump faithful is back in the news. Steve Bannon, aka sloppy Steve for Donald Trump, possibly one step closer to jail time. Paul Manafort could be closer to working with his old boss.

And one of the biggest competition shows in the world rocked by ugly protests, objecting to the mere participation of a contestant from Israel. So what exactly is driving these mobs prompting security concerns for the Israeli contestant? (MUSIC)

TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Brace for impact. We now know when the star witness will take the stand in Donald Trump's hush money criminal trial. Prosecutors plan to call Michael Cohen on Monday. Former Trump attorney and fixer at the center of this alleged deal to keep Stormy Daniels quiet in the days before the 2016 election, his testimony is expected to last days and days and the cross-examination is expected to be aggressive, if not downright brutal.

As Trump's lawyers tried to prove it was actually Cohen who made the hush money deal without the knowledge or even permission of his former boss, Donald J. Trump.

Cohen has made his hatred for Trump quite public in recent years, including by going live on TikTok just earlier this week and he happened to be wearing a shirt with an image and artistic rendering of Trump behind bars.

That, of course, led prosecutors to add Judge Juan Merchan to place Cohen under a gag order this afternoon. Merchan requested that -- rejected that request, but he did tell prosecutors to themselves order Cohen to stop talking about this case, and Donald Trump.

Let's get straight to CNN's Kara Scannell outside the courthouse.

Kara, what can we expect when Michael Dean Cohen finally takes the stand on Monday?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we expect Michael Cohen to be under cross-examination and direct examination for several days, and that's because Cohen is at the center of this. He is the person that facilitated this $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. He also according to prosecutors hatched out the reimbursement deal with Donald Trump in the Oval Office in February of 2017, and during that is when prosecutors say that this fear see to falsify the records was agreed to.

So, we'll hear Michael Cohen testify about the former president's role in both deciding to pay Stormy Daniels money to keep her quiet about her alleged one night with Donald Trump from coming out before the 2016 election. We also expect to hear about how the "Access Hollywood" tape caused a flurry of activity within the campaign and helps speed along locking down this deal. And we're also then expect to hear more about how they did decide in the Oval Office to repay Michael Cohen and how that moved from there, how he worked with Trump organization officials to work through his repayment through this idea that he was going to say he had a retainer agreement and that is why he was repaid.

He will be on direct examination by prosecutors for quite awhile. Remember how much we've seen in this case so far. We've seen bank records. We've seen text messages. That is all the materials that he will be come the narrator for us, he explains to the jury how this happened, how this came about.

And remember the jury has already heard from a lot of witnesses, a lot of them have already talked about Michael Cohen, sometimes not so flattering ways. And so this will all start to come together for the jury since Michael Cohen is the last substantive witness that prosecutors are expected to call, Jake.

TAPPER: Kara, the court ended early today, but not before prosecutors could introduce some evidence they feel is vital to the case. Tell us about that.

SCANNELL: Right. So we had a number of witnesses on today and their custodial witnesses, they help get in some of these documents. And among that were the phone records of Michael Cohen showing that he had a number of phone calls with different people involved at different points of this alleged conspiracy, with AMI officials, with the "National Enquirer", with Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer.


Those all came in also, what came in were tweets by Donald Trump. One tweet came just a few days after the FBI raided Michael Cohen's home office and hotel room, then Donald Trump was saying that some people would think that you would flip, but he didn't think Michael Cohen, his lawyer, would. Then fast-forward to just the day after Michael Cohen ended up pleading guilty to campaign finance charges in connection with this hush money deal, the next day, Donald Trump tweeted then that if you want a good lawyer, don't look for Michael Cohen.

So those are all elements that the prosecution has wanted to bring into this case, to show to the jury some potential consciousness of guilt by the former president about why he didn't want Michael Cohen to flip. And then when he did, he was really unhappy about it -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell, thanks. Get some sleep this weekend. It's going to be a busy Monday.

Let's discuss with former federal prosecutor, Gene Rossi, as well as CNN's Alayna Treene and Katelyn Polantz.

So, Gene, let's start with the prosecutor side of this.

Michael Cohen has made it clear he loathes Donald Trump. He despises Donald Trump. His respect for Mr. Trump knows bounds.

So, how did prosecutors prove to the jury that this isn't just revenge, he's not just making stuff up?

GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, first, the prosecutors should breathe deeply and take a chill pill. If I were a prosecutor and I saw that photo of him with that t-shirt, I would go apoplectic.


ROSSI: I really would. That -- that would start my cross.

TAPPER: I'm sure they told him before.

ROSSI: It goes in one ear and out the other.


ROSSI: And that is something that they're going to focus on on cross. He does his own thing. He can't take direction, which is part of their defense.

So what is the prosecution have to do in the next few days, Monday, Tuesday, maybe into Thursday, I tried to get to Thursday, with Cohen on direct. What I would do is get records and have him describe phone calls text messages, documents, get him to just editorialized records because that will build up his credibility.

And the other thing that prosecutors should do, they're probably not listening to me. I would impeach Michael Cohen during my direct.


ROSSI: I would bring out, you went before a judge. You were under oath. Mr. Cohen, you lied, why did you lie? Tell the jury --

TAPPER: Of course, they're going to do that, don't you think?

ROSSI: No, they didn't do it with Stormy Daniels. They should have impeached Stormy Daniels into direct. I did hundreds of witnesses that are five times worse than Cohen and Stormy Daniels.


ROSSI: I, on my direct, as a prosecutor, I basically cross so that when cross did occur, it was nothingburger.

TAPPER: It's not news, right?

ROSSI: It's not news.

TAPPER: Yeah. And the truth of the matter is that when you prosecute, for example, and I'm not comparing Mr. Trump to this case, but this hypothetical, if you're prosecuting, let's say, a gun runner --

ROSSI: Absolutely.

TAPPER: All of the witnesses are going to be criminals, right? I mean, so you have to get them to acknowledge that.

Kaitlan, what about the defense? What exactly did they need to do to convince the jury when Cohen's on the stand or is it just kind of obvious?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a laundry list of things that they can do just to add to Gene's point, one thing we know that exists in this case is Michael Cohen tape recordings, some of his conversations with Trump. So, we'll see what he has there, what goods are there.

But when the defense gets to question him in the cross, which might not be for a couple of days, right, and might not be the very might very well, might not be Monday later in the week, we could see them asking about his financial incentives, how much he was earning from coming out and now publicly having a podcast, becoming a figure that is anti-Trump, how much he hates Trump. And once Trump to go to jail, things that Michael Cohen has clearly done and said many times, in many ways, including on that recent t-shirt.

Then they can highlight how untrustworthy of a character he has been in his past, somebody who was found guilty of federal offenses, campaign finance, tax crimes, lying to Congress on behalf of Donald Trump, but lying to Congress in a situation where he was under oath and then also they can highlight how much of the goods does he really have on what Donald Trump was asking him to do versus what he thought he should be doing as somebody who was in the world of Trump protecting him.

TAPPER: Interesting.

POLANTZ: So there's a lot of different opportunities means they have, were going to see a lot of questioning from the --

TAPPER: Alayna, how is the Trump team preparing for this testimony?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: So we actually had a preview of that I think this week when we saw Susan Necheles aggressively go after Stormy Daniels tried to paint her as someone who has an ax to grind, who's doing this for money, who's lying.

They have a similar strategy with Michael Cohen, however, in my conversations with Trump's team. One, they tell me that Michael Cohen is the witness that they've prepared the most four and the one that they're most worried about, obviously, given how much information Michael Cohen has about Donald Trump, how much he know.

And remember, even though he's hated him for these past several years, he was someone who probably knew Trump better than even some of Trump's own families. So that's at the forefront of their minds. They've also been going through Michael Cohen's books, his podcast, his recent social media posts, which have obviously been very aggressively anti-Trump, trying to use those to show that he has some -- he clearly has a bias against Trump.


He has his own motive and try to undermine his credibility.

TAPPER: So, Gene, Trump came out of court today, ranting a bit. Let's play a little bit of that.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A very good bookkeeper marked a legal expense down as a legal expense. They didn't call it construction. They didn't call it building, something, or concrete or electrical cost. They called very simply, a legal expense to lawyer, who's a lawyer, not a fixer. He's a lawyer.

Legal expense to a lawyer, they go that legally expense. They said it was marked incorrectly. What else would you call it. This is what the case is about.


TAPPER: Is that simple, Gene?

ROSSI: He's absolutely right that this is what the case is about. But I'm Italian, I love food and I love souffles, even though its a French dish. But you got to -- you got to explain and defense has a big hurdle. They have to explain to souffle -- 130,000, went up to double that amount, plus a bonus. How did you get the 420? Its hard to say that for 420 was all legal expenses because you souffle is really down to 130.

So Michael Cohen, when he gets on a stand, if he gets it at point, his explanation of that invoice and what his conversations were with Weisselberg, who's a conspirator and that document has Weisselberg signature, that to me is the whole case because that's the foundation of the false invoices and the intent. And you connect it to keep any elections that event secret.


ROSSI: That's the whole case.

TAPPER: Everyone, stick around.

Former Trump White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is going to join us next. His take on Michael Cohen's expected testimony and I will ask him about the ruling that could put Steve Bannon closer to serving time behind bars.

Plus, the shady money behind some of the most powerful parts of politics. There's a lot of that these days. I'm going to talk to the authors of a new tell-all book about shady money, next.



TAPPER: In our law and justice lead Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial could get downright ugly on Monday because finally, Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, is expected to take the stand.

Prosecutors have accused Trump of having business records falsified in order to undermine the integrity of the 2016 election. That's what they say. That includes a hush money payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, paid through Cohen, the Long Island native who has made no secret of his late found, but utter disdain for his ex-boss.

Former Trump White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci joins us now. He's no longer a supporter of Mr. Trump. We should note.

Anthony, good to see you.

You and Michael Cohen are pals? You even paid a visit to him in federal prison when he was there. Have you talked to him ahead of his testimony? What's -- what's his advice -- what's your advice to him?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Well, you know, I did -- I have talked to Michael on more than one occasion and I think that -- I think Michaels in the right headspace for this testimony. And I think Michael has admitted to human frailty, and I think he's also a very honest guy.

Now, I know people, oh, well, he got convicted for perjury and all this other stuff but as most people that have gone through the gauntlet that Michael has gone through, there's been a healing process and a reformation process. And I think that will be on display for that jury next week. And I think unfortunately for Donald Trump, Michael Cohen has the receipts for everything that went on. And so, to really understand the facts of this case and where the criminality is in the case, it's related to campaign interference and it's related to the improper use of money going into a presidential campaign.

And so, Michael's got the receipts. They're smoking gun receipts, and he's going to provide very compelling, very honest, very direct testimony next week.

TAPPER: So you know both Mr. Trump and Michael Cohen, what's it going to be like where when they're in the same room together, just yards apart and Cohen's the only one speaking? What do you think that's going to be like for Trump?

SCARAMUCCI: Yeah. Well, you know, Trump is going to do that whole body language intimidation tactic. And because Michael wants to work for Donald Trump, he's going to think that like bullying, glare and that body language move of his is going to work on Michael, but it's not going to work on Michael.

Michael has jettisoned himself from that orbit, and I think that's going to frustrate Donald Trump. I think this will be worse for Donald Trump than it will be for Michael Cohen. You know, Michael Cohen has spent the last several years explaining himself, writing books about the situation and calling with great honesty what he you got wrong.

But Trump's move is going to be to try to intimidate Michael Cohen and to try to bully him like let's say he's Speaker McCarthy or something like that, and he wont be able to do that because there's no glue left on Michael Cohen's personality that hasn't stuck to Donald Trump.

TAPPER: So, you and Steve Bannon are notoriously not friends. In fact, you were fired after ten days, the White House, after bad mouthing Bannon to a "New Yorker" reporter in a conversation you thought was off the record.

SCARAMUCCI: Yeah. TAPPER: The reason I bring this up is because today, Steve Bannon's

conviction for defying the January 6 committee has been upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which really could pave the way for Bannon, to eventually have to go to prison. I mean, that's where Navarro is right now, prison.

Should Bannon go to jail do you think?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I have lot of animus for Steve Bannon. I think he's arguably one of the most malevolent people that I've met in the country. To really understand Steve Bannon's view of America is to be scared for the country so Trump get re-elected.


Remember Bannon's view to take America back to the 1890s and to disavow the David Ricardo principle of global trade, and to literally wall off America literally and figuratively from the rest of the world. And so, yeah, I would love to see him go to jail and I got fired after 11 days, not 10, but I know you're close to General Kelly. You can ask General Kelly why I really got fired.

I didn't really get fired for the mouthy comments I made about Steve, which I, you know, regret saying only because the idiot that I said it to recorded it but I don't really regret saying it because it was from my heart about how I feel about the guy. He's a very dishonest, very malevolent person.

And I'll point out that he got fired on the same day that I did, but he's such a baby, but he asked General Kelly to stay in the White House for 14 extra days. He didn't want to walk out the door at Pennsylvania Avenue at the same moment that I did.

And, you know, my contribution thus far to America is helping Bannon get fired. I explained to members of the staff, including President Trump what Bannon was doing to manipulate, undermine Mr. Trump and also to prosecute his own very dangerous, malevolent agenda.

And so, now, you know, he's out there. He got the pardon from Trump and so he's very, very overconfident and he thinks that he's like a Mandela-like figure. He ends up in jail. It's going to empower him but I don't see that for Steve Bannon. I see his demise shortly.

TAPPER: You recently called Trump the most un-American presidential nominee in U.S. history, obviously, you want Biden to win, President Biden to be reelected.

What are you hearing from your fellow Republicans who also have a distaste for Trump, but are having difficulties pulling the lever for Biden.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I'd either going to get closer to the facts. I think they have to recognize that there's 40 of us, including the former vice president that was on the ballot with Donald Trump, that have explained to the American people the systemic danger that erupts not represents not only do America but the world. And I would ask these people to think about it, let's say the 40 of us

worked for a pharmaceutical company and we told you that the drug was going to kill you, or we work for an automotive company and we say that car is going to crash and kill your family. You've got 40 people that work directly and in touch with Mr. Trump. You can't say that they're never Trumpers and all that other stuff because we were once Trumpers.

But we've seen what he is like, the full criminality of him. We've seen what he's like in terms of his destructive capabilities. And when I say he's an American, he says he's un-America.

He disavows the Constitution. He wants to go after you, Jake Tapper, and CNN. He wants to take your FCC license away. He has told his lawyers, his defense lawyers, many of which that have dropped them, that he'd like to use the FBI as the Gestapo, you know, and the only good thing about that is he doesn't understand history. So, he didn't even know what the word Gestapo means.

But this is a very dangerous guy. He shouldn't be anywhere near that White House again, and whatever shortcomings that President Biden may or may not have, I'll be supporting him. I'll be working for him in the fall.

And I believe this is a get out the vote effort by these two campaigns. And the president is going to be way more organized and have way more money than President Biden -- I mean, than President Trump. And President Biden is going to defeat him in November, but unless he goes to jail, Jake, hell probably run in 2028. We'll be dealing with this nonsense again and he'll further weaken the Republican Party, which I used to be very proud to be a part of.

TAPPER: Anthony Scaramucci, always good to see you, sir. Thanks so much for joining us.

SCARAMUCCI: Good to be on with you, Jake.

TAPPER: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels had a rather snarky comments after her testimony, but is that remark now grounds for a mistrial? We'll get into that next.



TAPPER: From, quote, orange turd to, quote, make America horny again. I'm just reading the court transcripts people. There is no doubt it has been a salacious and gross week in Donald Trump's hush money cover up trial.

But beyond the tabloid style headlines and not safe for work tweets, what did prosecutors actually accomplish? And did the defense score any big wins?

My panel's back with me along with defense attorney Shan Wu.

Shan, have prosecutor has been able to make a direct connection between Donald Trump and these payments beyond a reasonable doubt yet?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Not quite. I think they're strong circumstantial evidence for that, but in particular, zooming in even closer than what you're asked, they need the connection that he directed them to be falsified. Meaning, I think we've got pretty good evidence that he is aware that it's a repayment, signing the checks, but how they booked it on the books to falsify it, I think they still need a little connective tissue for that, which Michael Cohen might supply.

TAPPER: So, Gene, after completing her testimony and also presumably hearing that Donald Trump was asking for an exemption to the gag order so he could respond publicly to her testimony and that was slapped down. The judge won't allow it.

Stormy Daniels tweeted, quote: Real men respond to testimony by being sworn in and taking the stand in court. Oh wait. Never mind.

Now, former Trump Attorney Bill Brennan thinks that comment, that tweet itself could be grounds for a mistrial because he says jurors are not supposed to look at social media, but they do. What do you think?


ROSSI: Well, if the prosecutors or defense can find out that they did look at his social media that could possibly be a basis for a mistrial, could be. I think with this judge, it would be denied.

But I do want to make a comment. I don't know how strongly to prosecutors are telling these witnesses, Stormy, Michael Cohen, how strongly they are telling witnesses to keep shut. When I did -- when I did cases and I instructed that witness, I tried to be the force of God. And if they ever ran your mouths, there would be price to pay.

So I think the judge made a mistake and not imposing a gag order on Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, and all the other witnesses. I think Trump is right. If they're imposing a gag on him, they should impose a gag on the witnesses because they are poking the bear in inviting him to retaliate or make comments.

So what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If it's good for the defendant, Mr. Trump the witnesses should also be told to shut up.

TAPPER: Also, they could be creating grounds for a mistrial.


TAPPER: Which nobody wants because that's a real waste of money.

ROSSI: Yeah.

TAPPER: Katelyn Polantz, so the prosecutors and their redirect of Stormy Daniels yesterday brought up a lawsuit in California, where Stormy Daniels sued Trump over the non-disclosure agreement. Is there any significance to that? Could that come back to haunt the trial? POLANTZ: Well, its certainly something that we need to remember about what's been established in this trial, that the money got paid and there was an agreement with Stormy Daniels that she would keep quiet and the Trump Organization or Donald Trump or his world reimbursed Michael Cohen.

There was no dispute over that and that is part of the evidence here as well as this lawsuit back in 2018, where in court papers, Donald Trump's lawyers did confirm that he reimbursed Essential Consultants for this money to Stormy Daniels for $130,000.

TAPPER: Aren't they denying that in this court?

POLANTZ: No, in this court, there's no dispute that there's the agreement and the money being paid. The dispute is over. Did Donald Trump himself authorize the payment? Was it on his personal behalf for the benefit of his campaign?

So it takes it a little bit further. But as far as this goes, in the redirect of Stormy Daniels, it's a reminder to the jury of, hey, remember this exists. It's a point on the board and sort of clean up some of the other issues that are out there, all of the other mess that the defense is trying to make of her testimony.

TAPPER: And, Alayna, do we have any insight into how the Trump team thinks the trial is going so far, both in the actual courtroom and the, court of public opinion.

TREENE: So I talked to Trump's advisers and I'm talking about as political advisors here it varies on how they think the actual trial is going. I will say from the political side of it, they have no idea how this is going to play in a general election, and they admit that privately and that's really for them on, again, the politics side of this, what they're really worried about and I can tell you as much as a lot of his attorneys on his team, but also his political advisors have said to me that they think this case out of all of the foreign criminal indictments he is facing, they think this ones the weakest.

However, they also say that this could potentially be the most embarrassing Donald Trump because of what we saw play out this week. They knew that there was going to be a lot of salacious details. I mean, this is about a porn star he allegedly had an affair with and then paid hush money to, to cover up.

This is the type of thing they do not want playing out in the general election. And so that's part of it, but, look, this could also be the only trial that we have before the election. That's something that's also weighing very heavily on that as well.

TAPPER: Shan, prosecutors say they think they could possibly be finished with their presentation by the end of next week. Does that surprise you?

WU: No, not too much. I mean, I would think Cohen direct exam, you know, one to two days and then the cross be interesting to see how long they want to take with it. So, that doesn't surprise me. I don't think as a matter of strategy, you would want Cohen as the

very last witness. Ideally, you'd put in sort of like a summation kind of witness just because even if his testimony goes really well, it'll still be a very volatile kind of emotional feeling, believe, would the jury and the defense is going to get the last word? Some ways with the cross exam.

So you don't want to leave that kind of like all floating around. You want something that's very locked up. Summary, here's the evidence. Go think about it.

TAPPER: All right, thanks, one and all. Appreciate it.

Trump promised to drain the swamp. Now, one of his closest confidants is that a prison and poised to cash in on Donald Trump's latest run for the White House. I'm talking about Paul Manafort. A new book spells out how big money has taken over the functions of government. The authors will join me next.



TAPPER: Our politics lead now, Paul Manafort pleaded guilty in federal court in 2018 to conspiracy against the United States and obstruction of justice. Manafort was to serve at least seven years in prison, but then Donald Trump pardoned him, that he was his former campaign chairman, before Trump left office, in December 2020.

Today, Paul Manafort is poised to not only play another key role in Trump's bid for the White House, but to become perhaps the most powerful, unelected official in Washington, D.C. if Donald Trump wins in November, Manafort is seeking to cash in on his Trump inspired freedom and power. If you recall, this is exactly the type of influence peddling and sleaze that Donald Trump railed against in his first and only successful run for the White House.



Drain the damn swamp.

Drain the Washington swamp.


TAPPER: It turns out the swamp is as murky as ever. And Manafort is only one of some of Trump's closest confidantes who are key players, and how this is all going to pay out.


And that is the subject of a brand new book. It's called "The Wolves of K Street: The Secret History of How Big Money Took Over Big Government" by the Brothers Mullins, Brody and Luke Mullins. The book is getting a lot of us and a lot of praise being called quote, complete history of the unstoppable rise of Washington lobbying and, quote, a mesmerizing chronicle of the biggest business in U.S. politics.

Brothers Mullins, thank you so much for being here. Congratulations. It's a fantastic read. It reads like a novel.


TAPPER: So, people out there who might be daunted by it, don't be.

And you really document in great detail the rise and influence of these unelected power brokers in D.C. Two names central to the story there, it's not just Republicans. It's Democrats, too, but two names central the story both pardoned by Trump, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort.

How did they change the game? How might Manafort remake the rules?

BRODY MULLINS, AUTHOR, "THE WOLVES OF K STREET": Yeah. So Roger Stone and Paul Manafort are almost the original lobbyists in Washington. They were campaign guys that work for Ronald Reagan's campaign. We sort of forget the Ronald Reagan was the outsider running against George Bush, who is the insider, the establishment candidate and so Reagan's win was almost a surprise.

And when he won, Democrats in control of Washington for decades, they controlled Congress since the 1940s. Reagan brought Republicans the power in the Senate as well. And companies realized that they didn't know anyone who wanted they had no access Paul Manafort had worked on the Reagan campaign with Stone. So they said to companies, hey, where your guy. So here's one of the original Republican corporate lobbies in the 1980s. They represented Rupert Murdoch. They represented all the titans, Wall Street. They represent Donald Trump in fact back then.

So that's how they became the most powerful lobbyists at the time.

LUKE MULLINS, AUTHOR, "THE WOLVES OF K STREET": And what's fascinating now is that Paul Manafort, this is a guy who was in prison a couple of years ago, now stands to be perhaps the most powerful lobbyists in Washington if Trump is elected. One of the things that we learned in the book is that in 2016, the reason that Paul Manafort wanted to join Trump campaign was not because he wanted to go be chief of staff in the White House. It was because he wanted to develop relationships with Trump, which he could use to then go form a new who lobbying shop, which he could sell his influence peddling services to foreign governments. And that's something he had done in the past -- go ahead.

TAPPER: No, no, no.

L. MULLINS: No, I was going to say one of the one of the really striking conversations that we were told about by a very good source was that at one point, Trump had asked Paul Manafort, hey, if we win this thing what, what do you want? What do you want to be chief of staff? Do you want to be at an agency? And Paul Manafort said, no, I don't want to join the administration.

And the reason was because he saw the amount of money he could make if he had helped get a president elected and then go out, start his own lobbying firm off those -- off those relationships. And what's fascinating is that might be exactly what's happened.

B. MULLINS: Exactly what's happening. One more point, you know, in this country, have a long history of lobbyists becoming convicted felons. This might be the first case wherever convicted felon becoming a lobbyist.

TAPPER: So, obviously, it's not just the Republicans.

L. MULLINS: Correct.

TAPPER: You also highlight two men with deep ties to the Democratic Party, moved their family business into entire new the territory is often -- often undermining the work of the names, the very last names that gave them the seat at the table. I'm talking about Tom Boggs, son of former House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, Tony Podesta, brother of John Podesta, who has served in top positions in the Clinton, Obama, and Biden administrations, undermining the very work that the Podesta and Boggs names were named -- known for.

B. MULLINS: That's that exact point we making this book. Tommy Boggs was the first big Democratic lobbies in the '60s and '70s. He was the most connected Democratic lobbyists, maybe of the last century. His dad was now a member of Congress, but the Democratic majority leader before his plane disappeared in Alaska.

To replace him, in the senate, the citizens of New Orleans elected his mom. So Tommy Boggs grew up knowing all the major players in Washington at a time when only a few players in Washington matter, the president, the House majority leader and the Senate majority, basically ran Washington, made all policy.

So he was connected to everyone who is super important. And he went to companies that, hey, if you want stuff asked, hire me and they did.

TAPPER: And we should do -- Patent Boggs laid it out clearly in one of the marketing materials. Patent Boggs was built on the idea that the law can be changed to achieve client objectives. We see the law as a dynamic process, not as immutable rules, and procedures.

That's an interesting interpretation of what the laws are supposed to be.

L. MULLINS: Yeah, this was one of the more striking pieces of research that we came across. And it really shows just the way that they looked at the law. You know, Tommy Boggs recognized that the law, you know, wasn't handed down from the almighty. It wasn't carved into stone tablets. It was written by men and women.

And those men and women's opinions could be changed if you have the right lobbyists and for many years, Tommy Boggs himself, was that lobbyists. TAPPER: Talk about how Google worked to squash efforts to charge the company with being a monopoly because it's not just having laws written so that your tax code is more favorable.


It's also lobbying so that potential criminality is not charged.

B. MULLINS: Yeah. In this case, Google before became the huge behemoths it is now was still accused of being a monopoly in the late 2010 and the FTC was ginning up an investigation. They spent two years looking into the company, thinking they're going to bring a case, a monopoly case against them.

What Google did was go out and rally academic pay. Academics pay non- profit groups, pay lobbyists to sort of create a campaign around the FTC commissioners. The FTC commissioners needed to vote to bring a monopoly and basically lobbied people to get the commissioners to vote against the --

L. MULLINS: Essentially created this echo chamber around these handful of very powerful public officials and reinforce their message. They were essentially influencing the people that the commissioners themselves would look to for support.

B. MULLINS: Yeah, there's TikTok influencers. These are FTC influencers.

TAPPER: Yeah. And is there any solution here? It's rare thing that can be done about this.

B. MULLINS: You know, I mean, lobbying is constitutionally protected, right? People have the right to petition their government. I don't see anything changing, especially with campaigns causing so much money and lobbyists being so responsible for how much money gets into politics. So you mentioned that the top, Donald Trump draining the swamp, I don't think that's going to happen.

TAPPER: What about disclosure? At the very least, could there be more clean disclosure laws?

L. MULLINS: Absolutely. I mean, one of the things that we read about in the book is the transition away from traditional insider access peddling two, now, which is the sort of outside influence game where the goal is essentially to influence voters themselves, basically, viewers, essentially go directly to them, whip up support for or against something among the public. So the public puts pressure on members now.

The difference is direct lobbying needs to be disclosed. That outside influence where you're talking directly to voters, that operates entirely in secret and no reason for that. That is a loophole that absolutely could and should be close.

TAPPER: The book is "The Wolves of K Street". The authors, Brody and Luke Mullins. Thank you so much for being here. Congrats on the book. Fantastic


Strapped down, blindfolded, held in diapers, reports of abuse of Palestinians at a detention center in Israel. What whistleblowers within the Israel Israeli government told CNN's Matthew Chance in an exclusive report? That's next.



TAPPER: In our world lead, a CNN exclusive reveals disturbing details from Israeli military personnel describing how Palestinian prisoners are being treated, especially since Hamas is horrific terrorist attack on Israel on October 7th.

CNN chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance is here to detail what he has uncovered -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, this is an investigation we've been engaged in for the past month or so. And within the past few hours, in fact, the White House has said, it finds the findings deeply concerning findings, which appeared to show systematic abuse of detainees Palestinian detainees, in one particular Israeli detention center close to Gaza.

I say that probably a growing number of Israelis as well are concerned because the people who told us about the treatment inside, they're not pro-Palestinian activists, they're not the people that have been protesting on campuses across the United States. They're Israeli citizens, they've been serving or reservists with Israeli army, are all with helping out medically with the Israeli army, working very close with them inside, inside Gaza.

And they're just increasingly uncomfortable with what they've seen and what they've been asked to do. Take a take a quick look.


CHANCE (voice-over): And now, CNN has gained exclusive evidence of prisoner abuse at Sde Teiman for multiple Israeli whistleblowers who've witnessed what happens inside, one young Israeli reservists told us he saw scores of detainees at Sde Teiman, shackled and blindfolded. We've hidden his identity and voice to shield him from prosecution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were told they are not allowed to move and must sit upright. They're not allowed to talk or peek under their blindfolds.

CHANCE: And what happened if they -- if they did do that? What kind of punishments were meted out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were allowed to pick out problematic people and punish them, having them stand with their hands above their heads for an unlimited time. If they didn't keep their hands up, we could zip tie them to the fence.

CHANCE: The Israeli military says detainees a handcuffed based on their risk level and health status.


CHANCE (on camera): That's right. We spoke to a couple of other whistleblowers as well. Another Israeli guard at Sde Teiman who said he witnessed people being beaten, having their teeth and their bones broken, and a medical worker as well. He said he was shocked at the low level of facilities available for people who had been detained in Gaza, but with battlefield sort of traumatic injuries like gunshots and things like that.

And so, you know, a lot of concern be expressed both in Israel and by the United States, the White House now as well.

TAPPER: And, Matthew, how is this being seen or discussed in Israel?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, it's being taken very seriously, is being picked up by a lot of Israeli press. And the expectation is there will be some sort of government reaction about it. Its obviously were going to bring, bring to you.

It's all the more powerful and resonant in Israel because as I say these are Israelis that are making these, these allegations that are whistleblowing on what they've seen and what they've been -- been asked to -- been asked to do.

And at points to a much broader debate that's taking place inside Israel as well about the strategy, the governments of Benjamin Netanyahu who's using post the Hamas attacks on October the 7th.

For instance, as you know, there's a lot of concern that the government is putting too much emphasis on destroying Hamas, not enough on getting the hostages released. Well, this is something very similar, is another iteration of that. There are concerns amongst Israelis against a growing number of Israelis that Israel has kind of stepped over its own moral boundaries for the sake of security and for the sake of revenge, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you so much. And we'll look for your full report coming up on "AC360" tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.


Coming up next, what it takes to defend Donald J. Trump, you're going to hear from one of his former impeachment lawyers.

Plus, Michael Cohen may not be the only star witness to testify in the hush money cover case. What the judge said today about the former money man, Allen Weisselberg, possibly being called to the stand.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, one of the biggest competition shows in the world, rocked by protests over the Israel-Hamas war. Demonstrations outside as in Israeli singer in the final round is facing pressure from fellow contestants, and critics are calling for a boycott because she exists.