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Quigley Joins Anderson Cooper to Preview Michael Cohen’s Testimony Before HPSCI

Feb 27, 2019
In the News

COOPER: Michael Cohen isn't finished on Capitol Hill, not quite yet. He is set to appear tomorrow behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee, which now of course has a Democratic majority. Joining me here tonight: Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley and Utah Republican Chris Stewart, both members of that committee. We're going to have a busy day tomorrow. Thanks so much for being with us. Congressman Quigley, you heard -- I assume you watched today's testimony. Is it going to influence your approach tomorrow?

QUIGLEY: No, I don't think so. I think what you'll see is a lot more detail, a lot more corroboration.

COOPER: Unfortunately, we won't see it, you'll hear it, but -

QUIGLEY: Well, eventually you'll see it. And a lot more discussion, I think about Russia and Trump Tower Moscow.

COOPER: That's going to be the focus, you think? Russia, Trump Tower Moscow?

QUIGLEY: Well, I think there will be a lot more focus on those things than what you saw today. There'll be other things. A lot of what you saw today, but the details of it following up with documentation.

COOPER: Congressman Stewart, when -- first of all, what are you hoping to get out of tomorrow?

STEWART: Well, I didn't watch it today, and I chose not to watch it and turns out I had a busy day anyway. I wanted to go into this and make my own observations to be able to see him face to face and make some evaluations, and not have it filtered through other people. There are certain things that I certainly want to ask of him. The first and most obvious is, can you share with us any information regarding collusion or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, which was the genesis of this investigation and the thing that Intel is focused on. I want to know, did he travel to Prague, can he verify any information that was -- the accusations made in this Steele dossier, for example. I would like to ask him this, and I think this is critical, and all of us would agree with that, and that is, are you telling us anything different or anything new that you haven't told Mr. Mueller, because I’m relying heavily on the Mueller investigation. He can do things, he has resources, he has capabilities and time that we haven't had. And last thing, if I could, and this is a personal thing. The one thing I did hear him say is how he described President Trump as being this hateful…person, and I would ask him: Why did you keep working for him, if that's the way he was, and why didn’t you tell anyone? Why are you telling us this now and not two years ago before the election?

COOPER: Some of those things he answered today. I assume you'll, you know, you will be briefed on or will follow up in advance on, and he said he wasn't in Prague, he said he doesn't know much about the collusion stuff. What's interesting, though, about your questions is, you actually have specific questions for him today. One of the really stark things was Democrats had, you know, statements to make and also then questions. The Republicans really were just going after his credibility, trying to knock that down. Not actually really asking a lot of questions. So I think, is that the -- I mean, it seems like, when it's behind closed doors and the cameras aren't present, it's a different kind of hearing.

STEWART: This is a very different kind of hearing. And I didn't mean to jump -- you can answer this, as well, but this is very different. which is one of the reasons that many of us love the work we do on the Intel Committee. The format is different. We take it in one-hour blocks: One hour, one hour, 30 minutes, 30 minutes, and anyone can ask a question, you can take as much time as you want.

COOPER: It seems like today, what was frustrating I think for a lot of viewers is oftentimes on the Democratic side, somebody would make a statement for –

STEWART: Five minutes.

COOPER: Five minutes, almost, of their five minutes, it seemed like, and you couldn't help but feel some of that is just for the cameras or for local news back home or something.

STEWART: Some of it, really? You think?

COOPER: Well, I'm trying to be polite, you know. I want to be respectful.

QUIGLEY: I think he did reference two points to deal with collusion and conspiracy. When he talked about Roger Stone having discussed a conversation with Julian Assange and here come -- we're going to get this information that's going to nail Hillary Clinton.

COOPER: But that's Roger Stone saying he discussed -- I mean, Roger Stone says a lot of things, doesn't mean it's true.

QUIGLEY: But it's Cohen referencing -- oh, but let's add the fact that Roger Stone said those things too publicly, right? Mr. Podesta is next in the barrel. He bragged publicly in Florida about his relationship with Julian Assange. So, I don't think you take one element of this investigation and believe it. And then he also referenced the discussions about the son referencing --

COOPER: Right, Don Jr.

QUIGLEY: -- the meeting in Trump Tower, that that meeting is going to happen. He also said something that’s absolutely critical that Steve Bannon referenced. That there is absolutely no way that things happened of this magnitude through the Trump Organization then, and now the Trump presidency, without him knowing about it. Steve Bannon said, there's no way that Trump Tower meeting takes place without the son going straight to the dad afterwards. That's the thing I believed the most in his testimony today.

BORGER: There's one thing I want to know that wasn't asked today, and I’m wondering if you're going to ask it or if you're going to ask it. Are you going to ask whether Michael Cohen was offered a pardon?

STEWART: I would be happy to ask that.

BORGER: Yeah, well, go ahead and tell us, then tell us the answer.

STEWART: Pretty sure I can speculate on the answer on that. But, I want to come back to what Mr. Quigley said, and this is the challenge we have, and we have I think a better opportunity to do that. And that is you have to evaluate the entirety of the evidence. The fact that Mr. Cohen said it today does not make it true. Surely, you know that. Surely you know the fact he said it today does not make it true.

COOPER: Especially given his past record.

STEWART: Given his past history, and you have to evaluate that against what we do know is true, what other witnesses have said, the other evidence that we have against that. And, again, we have a much better opportunity to do that, because we can do it in one-hour blocks and compare transcripts before us, et cetera, et cetera, that you just couldn't do today.

PHILLIPS: Congressman Quigley, do you have reason to believe that Michael Cohen knows more about those two incidents? For example, the conversations with Roger Stone about WikiLeaks and the Trump Tower meeting? I mean, do you have reason to believe that he actually has more concrete information about these things than he shared today?

QUIGLEY: Well, we're going to find out. There's documentation that he's going to be sharing communications that he had. So, I anticipate that will be along those lines. I just want to add, I think…testimony today accentuates and fits very well with what we have learned so far. If you took everything that we have seen and heard for over two years now in this investigation, the testimony today was even more believable, because it fit in time and sequence. What happened just shortly after that discussion he referenced today when he was on the phone with Roger Stone? What, seven days later he makes the pronouncement: Russians, if you're listening, let's go after those 30,000 e-mails? And you put it in concert with all the other testimony and witnesses we've had, it's starting to make sense. The puzzle is starting to fit, and it's one of collusion and conspiracy.

TOOBIN: Can I ask, you both have been steeped in this investigation for some time. This is not the first witness you're going to hear. Do you think Donald Trump was a Russian asset?

QUIGLEY: I believe that the President of the United States had one of two things taking place. Either he was compromised, and I believe it will be financially, or he was using -- and this may be what's more scary. He was using his candidacy, and the notion that he could become president to personally profit, and the greatest questions tomorrow in that mind will be about Trump Tower Moscow. Because what was taking place? We now know that that deal was on -- was out there through the campaign. So, while he's questioning the credibility of NATO, using Putin's talking points, and while he's seeking relief of sanctions for the Russians, he is pursuing a deal that required the relief from those sanctions that would profit him millions and millions of dollars. I think that's the question.

BORGER: Does that explain –

COOPER: Congressman?

STEWART: Look, Mr. Quigley is a friend of mine. I respectfully disagree. I think if you think and are supposing, based especially on testimony today, that Mr. Trump was a Russian asset, I think you frankly have lost entire perspective on this. And I think the best evidence of that is once again, I go to Mr. Mueller, who I have always supported, who I think is doing a professional job on this, and I ask you, what accusations has he made against any U.S. citizen and Russian collusion or Russian conspiracy? And the answer is zero. And I think anyone who would make that accusation saying this president is a Russian asset, in a serious way, has been so corrupted by their dislike for this president. And, if I could, I have to come back to this point. Mr. Mueller has not made any accusations regarding this, and you can say, well, perhaps he was running to enrich himself. Well, it may not be a good idea, it's not a crime, and dozens of people have done it. How many people have run for president knowing that they would not win, but they wanted to increase their own credibility, their own public perception?

QUIGLEY: But this is a lot more direct.

COOPER: There's also a difference between increasing your potential speaking fees on a lecture circuit by running for president than there is potentially building a -- profiting hundreds of millions of dollars –

STEWART: Well, how does he profit –

COOPER: According to Michael Cohen –

QUIGLEY: The special counsel has teed this up for you. He has referenced in court filings, as other districts have, the Manafort direct contacts with a Russian where he's giving him polling data and he's talking about a Ukrainian peace deal that would benefit the Russians.

STEWART: Okay, I've got to answer this –

COOPER: We've got to go, but very quickly, I want you to move on.

STEWART: Very quickly. Tell me a policy, not a statement, a policy this president has done that favors Russia? Because he's far, far harder on Russia than this president has been.

QUIGLEY: He's slow balled the sanction, the rollout of sanctions.

STEWART: He's increased funding for NATO. Sending weapons to the Ukraine --

TOOBIN: What happened in Helsinki?

STEWART: -- energy policy. All of those are meaningful things that hurt Russia.

COOPER: Alright, I appreciate both of you and I know you have a busy day tomorrow…