Quigley on MSNBC: Mr. Cohen Won’t Come Empty-handed
WITT: Joining me right now, Congressman Mike Quigley, Democrat from Illinois and also a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Welcome back to the broadcast on this Sunday. Thank you for joining me as we get right into it here. As I had mentioned, Michael Cohen is testifying before your committee behind closed doors on Wednesday—probably Thursday, rather. What can you tell us about what you are planning to ask him?
QUIGLEY: You mentioned grilling Mr. Cohen. I really hope it doesn't come to that. Obviously, the last time he testified before us, he lied. He was evasive. He has said that choosing working with Mr. Trump, at the time, was choosing darkness over light. My message to Mr. Cohen is, let us let you do that. Let us help you do that. I hope it doesn't come to a grilling, contentious, long meeting. I hope we find out more of the truth. First of all, why did you lie? Were you encouraged to lie and by whom? And what else can you tell us? Is there anything else you misled us about? And then, to get into the meat of these issues, Trump Tower Moscow. How exactly did that go? We now know that the president was seeking a relief of sanctions for the Russians needed for that Trump Tower meeting, and that's extraordinarily important for the American public to know.
WITT: You mentioned the Trump Tower meeting. In fact, I want to remind viewers of what then candidate Trump said about his business interests in Russia.
TRUMP (clip): I have no deals in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia. How many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse.
WITT: So, you are saying the president was lying right there. Correct?
QUIGLEY: The president was lying. I think when the president talks about—and Senator Graham talks about—this all being about collusion, and if we suspend the reality of Mr. Manafort meeting with Mr. Kilimnik and giving him polling data and other evidence of collusion. If we suspend all of that, here is what the American public has a right to know…did the president of the United States, as a candidate and then as the president, sell out the American public? We learned so much about the Saudi deal and what the administration is trying to do from the investigation of Mr. Flynn. Mr. Cohen and others have taught us about the Trump Tower Moscow dealing. These are issues in which we have to ask ourselves: was the president looking out for our interests or someone else? I believe there are many more issues that are similar to this. They have to be found out. So, this isn't just about collusion.
WITT: So, with regard to what you specifically want to ask Michael Cohen, do you have the questions already formulated...what you want to ask him about the Trump Tower Moscow project?
WITT: Well, look, the way I look at these investigations, and I’ve been interviewing these people for almost two years now, is you prepare general notes of things you want to know. As a former criminal defense attorney, you listen to what they have to say, and then you formulate questions that go into a little more of the specifics. But I want to know exactly who made these arrangements. Who was talking to him about these deals? What exactly did the president as candidate say to him about this deal and what he wanted to do? And, finally, who was he communicating with? Obviously, we know that he was supposed to be in Prague in the summer of 2016. He wasn't there. Why do we hear of his cell phone pinging off the towers there? Does he know of anyone else that was communicating with the Russians? Was it about these sanctions? Was it about the Trump Tower meeting or about any of the other issues we hear now about the president perhaps working in his own interest against the America public's.
WITT: Now, look, you’re going to get pushback from the president, probably while this is underway. He will either put out a tweet, although he will be busy in Hanoi, but it is possible there will be also the pushback because Mr. Cohen is a liar. He has proven himself to be a liar. Why do you think you will believe it this time? What is in it for him?
QUIGLEY: At this point, he has absolutely nothing to lose. We wonder, sometimes, how people get into jail who commit crimes. There are often people who testify against them who are criminals. There are people who testify who have previously lied. It really gets into the question of the trier of fact. In this case, the American public. Do we believe them or not? And is there enough supporting information and evidence that leads you to believe what they are saying? I don't think Mr. Cohen is coming empty handed. I believe that he shared information with the special counsel, and I believe there is a lot of documentation toward these points. But, in many respects, we are still at the beginning of this. If the president thinks that this is all over when the special counsel files his report, he is sadly mistaken. The fact of the matter is, as far as a congressional investigation goes, in the terms of whether these are impeachable offenses, it may be just the beginning.
WITT: The president's former aide, [sic], told me yesterday that the president's big red line, that's his children. Are you going to ask Michael Cohen about Ivanka, Eric, or Don Jr. in any context?
QUIGLEY: I think it is fair game. The fact of the matter is, I don't think Don Jr. was candid with us as well. I think he is one that we would like to bring back and clarify some of his answers. I don't think anyone is off limits in this circumstance. The fact of the matter is the members of the Trump family that were working on these projects and programs. If they are not involved, then they are not fair game. But if they are, the president has put them in harm's way.
WITT: Is it the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower? Is that what you want to talk with Don Jr. about, among perhaps other things?
QUIGLEY: Oh, I think there is any number of things that he could enlighten us, if he was deciding to be more candid than he was before. The fact is, we were dealing with— we were hamstrung, but the fact is that the chairman of the committee, at the time, was really acting as a second defense team for the president and the White House. And my Republican colleagues were more worried about protecting the president politically and legally than getting to the heart of what took place. There were no subpoenas for witnesses, and people didn't have to answer questions if they didn't want to. So, we’ve got the gavels now. The American public is going to find out what took place.
WITT: I thank you for your time. We will be riveted to the television on Wednesday and certainly very eager to see of what comes behind your meeting as well. Thank you so much, Mike Quigley, for joining us.