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Cohen and Manafort crimes prove ‘the real facts are closing in,’ says Sen. Warner

This week, a barrage of developments occurred around figures within President Trump’s inner circle. Senator Mark Warner, D-Virginia, joins Judy Woodruff to review the Manafort conviction, the Cohen guilty plea, whether Warner expects Cohen to testify on Capitol Hill and President Trump’s “alternative world.”

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Let's take a closer look now at the political ramifications of yesterday's guilty plea and guilty verdicts. How are lawmakers from both sides of the aisle responding?

    We begin with a Democrat. Mark Warner of Virginia is the Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman.

    Senator Warner, welcome back to the program.

  • Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.:

    Thank you, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, President Trump is repeating today that neither one of these developments yesterday had anything to do with the Mueller-Russia investigation. What is your read on these — guilty plea and guilty verdict yesterday?

  • Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.:

    Well, let's look — take a step back and look at what we have seen in the last 24 hours.

    The president's campaign manager guilty of eight serious felonies, potentially 80 years in jail, the president's longtime fixer making a guilty plea as well, this coming on the president's national security adviser pleading guilty.

    It comes on 30 other indictments from the Mueller investigation, five other guilty pleas, the president's attorney general having to recuse himself.

    This president tries to, in a sense, live in an alternative world where facts don't matter. But the real facts are closing in.

    In the case of Mr. Cohen, Mr. Cohen's guilty plea, where he seems to have indicted the president in terms of a campaign violation, I will let other lawyers or — make the judgment on that.

    But what I find very interesting from Mr. Cohen is his willingness, I understand, to testify before Mr. Mueller, and I hear secondhand that he may be willing to testify before our committee about things that would be of interest to Mueller. That, by its nature, might be, in terms of ties to the Russia investigation, whether Mr. Trump knew about the hacking of the e-mails, was willing to coordinate on the release of those e-mails.

    We do know that the intelligence community has assumed that, not only did the Russians intervene, but they intervened to help Trump and hurt Clinton.

    I have — I'm very interested in what Mr. Mueller has to — or what Mr. Cohen has to say about those activities, as well as we have got a lot of remaining questions about Mr. Cohen's involvement in a proposed Trump Tower Moscow, where, candidly, our investigation had gotten to a certain point, but we still have questions.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, just quickly, Senator, I want to turn to another part of what Michael Cohen said.

    And that is having to do with the payments to two women who alleged to have had affairs with President Trump to keep them quiet. Is that something — and he said — and he said in court yesterday, Mr. Cohen did, that the president — or that a candidate — clearly, he is referring to the president — directed him to do that.

    Is that something Congress should look into?

  • Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.:

    Well, I think that would be something that probably doesn't fall within the Mueller investigation or doesn't fall even within our Russia collusion investigation.

    But any candidate for federal office, from the lowest level to the highest level, knows that you can't direct corporate payments, you can't make corporate in federal election campaigns. You have got limits. And if what Mr. Cohen has said is true — I will leave it to the election lawyers, but it sure would seem to me that that would be a violation of the law.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Just finally, and quickly, some of your Democratic colleagues are saying that the Kavanaugh, the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings should be postponed, given all this.

    They're refusing to meet with him. Where do you stand on that?

  • Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.:

    Listen, I'm going to still meet with Mr. Kavanaugh.

    I have got a lot of serious questions about his views on executive power. I think no person is above the law, particularly Mr. Trump, who is so willing to flout laws and flout the truth at a drop of a hat.

    So I'm going to still go ahead and have that meeting with Mr. Kavanaugh. And, unfortunately, in terms of the hearings, it appears to me that the majority is going to set that timetable. And so far, they have indicated no willingness to relax.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator Mark Warner, we thank you.

  • Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.:

    Thank you, Judy.

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