Comey renders his judgment on everyone, Cohen has a rough day in court, Hannity is Client #3, and Trump launches airstrikes. Then The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson talks to Jon about his piece, “The End Stage of the Trump Presidency.”
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
POD save America is brought to you by zip recruiter our listeners like smart stuff. True, why is zip recruiters
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welcome to pod, save America, I'm John Fabbro on John Love. It hi Michael Kohn Man. We got our lawyer here, hey guys,
applied. Today I interviewed the New Yorkers Adam Davidson about his latest piece, the end stage of the Trump presidency that will be up a little.
And I will either look prescient or not
there you go it's a binary choice, love it. How is the blizzard in the Midwest this weekend? We had
great shows one in Chicago. Then we went to
show is awesome and it's out right now. You should download it the Minneapolis she'll be out next week. We did a kind of evergreen show about fake news and propaganda, and some experts on to talk about it
but Minneapolis was amazing because it was a blizzard. Everybody still came out. You know
well, a lot of people couldn't make it really sorry, but her there was a blizzard of laughs inside it was.
Flurry of an avalanche of joking wow,
what is it John? I'm
Launching a new podcast that will be out this summer is that we've been for like six months. Yes, that is just
That's so cool thought about it's a special series: it's a documentary style podcast about the history and future of the Democratic party. Who is this our first foray into? It is a docu
yes, yes, D town
I have been trying to name this thing for months and you just did a cool d town. Yes, over the last six months, I've interviewed
organizers, strategists historians.
Policy. Wonks data nerds party leaders get your Hillary people, Bernie People, Obama, people, gotta mall, and he Kucinich people not yet, but there's still time and basically asking everyone the same question: how do we fix what's wrong with the Democratic party? I even did a few focus groups with democratic voters and yeah. I wanted to do this because we've talked about this for awhile after twenty
all of the Rnc did an autopsy they clearly they followed it to the letter that really mad. It said I embrace is that a variety of a changing America go elect a racist clown, but the Democrats haven't done one and we always talk about the Democratic Party in parts of America, but we don't get to do it enough, because the races clans making a lot of news every day. So this is basically supposed to be the start of a conversation about
What went wrong and more importantly, sort of where we go from here and not just what went wrong in twenty? Sixteen, no! No we're going to do
history of the party went up with the Obama years whenever two thousand and sixteen, and mainly like each episode after we go through a quick history of the parties going to focus on a major challenge at the party faces going forward. You talk to Chris Dodd Democrat,
Yeah mostly I talked to Chris Democrats. I talked to a lot of Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee Democrats. The data
what I'm hearing from you that you're gonna definitively weighing in on the Bernie versus Hillary debate. I am going to re litigate all of my own personal twitter, about okay, good, just on a longer form awesome, and I think that that will endear me to many people on both sides. I'm excited to listen. What is
to hear from you as well 'cause, it's not done yet and so over the next few weeks, we're going to have a call in number and people can call
and leave a voicemail which no one has done for years,
that way. That way John's been on the phone going, Sheboygan, hello, I'm moving taking college. Can I text you and so
we call this number and you can leave a voicemail answering the question what's wrong with the Democratic Party and how do we fix it?
the number is nine hundred and forty nine six hundred and sixty seven four thousand five hundred and twenty four, and if you act now joke idea of also one of if it were possible for Joe Biden to leave a message in a mustache
does not enough Joe Biden. You know
You can't leave a call with a mustache. I would it be great if we got the messages from some notable people Heather is like. I think we have a call me problem mostly again with a mustache
Anyway, that's the project, that's been taking up all my time and hopefully it will be out in July, cool thanks anyway,
give us a call and tell us what you think I'll be looking forward to hearing
we're jazz John, were jazz were just jazz. Just do it all right, let's get to the news last
ABC News. Air George Stephanopoulos Interview with James Comey, who is just six feet. Eight inches of pure
moral rectitude, that's so tall is actually five one. It's good. He is the former FBI director Republicans. The Donald Trump is morally unfit to hold all the time and
that the Russians had material that could be used to blackmail him. He also defended his action,
Clinton, email investigation, which we can all agree with perfect
guys do anything. Surprise you about this interview, it's so funny to
We live in a world in which the answer to the question
FBI director, saying the president is morally unfit and may be compromised by a foreign government as they go real snooze fest yeah like the factual, I guess the tone in the language surprised me a little bit like there was nothing new factually right. I thought it was particularly like I was sort of
bit of snake in Komi like when he said. Look, I'm not
those guys who says Trump is dementia that he's like as a fail.
In brain, I think, has above average intelligence and then go.
To criticize him for being an immoral president and that's why it's like
you're, leading with repeat
in the charge. That is the thing you're then saying you don't believe it's a little gross. I think like there weren't a lot of
facts interview the word in the letter or the memos that he leaked? What drove me,
crazy was the fact that he was
willing to render
in literally everything but his own conduct and like they did
like there was much introspection. Closest ego
I was saying you know. I have problems with my ego. I'm always worried about that. But like am I listening to others when I'm making decisions or I'm just doing stuff myself, and so he that's what he threw out. There is like the him doing wrong stuff. What do you think
There's been one question that James Comey's answer in the past that answered again last night. That has always been.
And the focus of my ire, which is
If you knew that a letter like Donald Trump, would you still send it you're talking about the famous October 20th letter about Anthony Weiner's laptop, which was somehow
became a thing in the election in twenty? Sixteen, as we all remember the wiener thanks again, thanks again Anthony so call me
Stephanopoulos something similar to what he said in the hearing which basically he would do the same thing over again
and he basically said he would do literally everything he did open, which is incredible. So I was really stuck on this and John and Tommy saw me kind of working through my thoughts out loud in the room 'cause. I was sick, so frustrated.
It, was finger pointing at their conductor from those little sticks.
Here's. Here's what I was working out. Alright, so call me said:
he sent the letter in part because he expected Hillary Clinton to win and that, if that, if he hadn't sent it if the fax came out after Hillary,
president, it would make her election less legitimate, but
he also said he couldn't
not send the letter
then that would have been allowing politics to interfere with the FBI, even though
letter he's admitting his for political reasons, but okay, so that's confusing, but put that aside it's important, but inside aside
so he sends the letter because he
Once you have sent it after Hillary wins, but
still send the letter even
the letter means she lost so
not sending a letter means she wins.
Therefore he should have sent it but
it means she loses so, therefore he should not have sent it and the reason. I think that this is ridiculous. This is on the essay tees. You don't know, but so
This is where you find why James Comi made such a big mistake. It's sort of like logical fallacy at the heart of what he's doing
you can't just admit that he never should have sent that letter and he never should have revealed one investigation, but not the other, because I think
sincerely believes in his mid
sincerely believe these are the values that he's trying to a spouse, but what's clear
and he says that he would have sent it anyway, even though the only reason he sent it was to have sent it had. Hillary won is because he's not trying to be ethical, he's trying to seem ethical, and that is the fundamental flaw with James Comi did at
every step of this process? I put windows revealing lines from the interview was he said, you know one of my kids shared a tweet. It's become one of my favorite tweets and it said that Comey is such a political hack. I just can't figure out which party and I
really took that as a compliment, and that is the clash
Magnox labels, I was going to say if it is very Washington elite mindset that you
some people in government that you get from the media that we saw in twenty sixteen and it's it. The problem is not just that everyone assumed who would win. The problem is that because everyone assumed he
We would win the political immediately decided that they would be extra tough on her
prove how nonpartisan they are because they all celebrate balance is the highest virtue,
where the truth more than anything else like they must be balanced, and what that means.
People on the right,
how low they go, no matter how much they lie. They can count on the fact that if they work the Refs hard enough, they will damage the other side.
And on top of that like he also says that the fact that both sides hate him now as an illustration of the polarization of our times. No, the Hillary people hate you because you
Rogue Doj guidelines intervene in election just days before it happened and maybe tipped it to Donald Trump, the most unfit. President to ever,
The office, the Trump people hate you, because he savages you by name over and over and over again, as he tried to obstruct justice with you and now is mad at you, like that's, not the same thing, but the Trump people don't like you, because they were afraid you're going to expose his rampant,
now that you know that's a different thing. They from the thing the Clinton people criticize you for your conduct and the outcome may cause which is Trump being President
yeah and like and by the way just because he made a gigantic mistake in the Clinton email investigation doesn't mean that the
this Isms from the Republicans that he's some like lying hacks slimeball are
no, it said no, he was. He fell victim to this mindset that he must be like. You said he must appear ethical and he took even
He said he didn't want to take politics into consideration, even though he said the one rule he's tried to obey is to not do anything that will impact an election
said that he doesn't need to be multiple times, but he said in this case the only option was to either reveal or
this letter seems for a year when that was not the option. The option could have been its Doj policy. Not to do anything that will impact an election right before an election and then after the election she won
all you had to do was say by the way we looked at some emails. We didn't find anything, and that was that and if they did find something- and they could say at the time
we don't want to do anything to impact the election because we didn't know it was in the order. We hadn't figured out yeah exactly figured out
and by the way, James Comi as the Joker would say, you're going to break your one rule, because you didn't
tell about the Trump investigation. The many trump investigations, the many many different facets of his
crimes. I will say I thought he was persuasive on why
why it was a little different on the Trump investigation, because it was
Counter Intel investigation involving some Americans
in one reveal actually revealing the investigation and who they were would have compromised. The investigation itself and the Hillary investigation was a public referral from the inspector general. So it was already public and you couldn't avoid it, but all of that is parsing. You said you
I don't want to be political, but you chose in the week before an election letter is unfucking forgiveable in every way.
James Comey said this other thing in the interview where he talked about there was once
when people were afraid of going to hell if they took an oath in the name of God and violated it. We've drifted away from that day and so in its place, has to be a fear that if you
government can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. They will prosecute you in order to.
Message. You must tell the truth that matters enormously. Oh boy, it's self righteous, it's the way in which James Comey is frustrated, but what I appreciate about James Comey is, I believe he is sincerely grappling with what he sees as a culture that doesn't
how you the truth, the culture that right about that? Yes, he is actually right about that and, like we talked about it, we do. We, not you put in terms of God, be put in terms of shame, but, like I believe James call me is a good person.
I also believe we should that he was in a difficult position,
a difficult position created by Hillary Clinton at a difficult position created by Donald Trump to people who were under investigation. I just believe it is obvious in hindsight that his fear
about partisanship. He got in his own head and completely bosch it and and mishandled it and he's the only person who can't admit it because to admit it would be to concede something so grand and so big about his role in history that he can possibly do. It is to admit it
to say that everything you ever did lead. You to make this
decision that caused one of the greatest political emergencies in american history. I had another small thing that was interesting from interview. Was he said that Trump refuses to criticize Putin, even in private
I thought that even in private, which is corroborated by other officials in other stories, yeah, I don't even
that one like that was like okay, alright poons got something on Trump. Does he think he's in the uh
what's going on how what are you afraid of body to me? It was just like the pathology of Trump like thinking that if anyone believes that the election was somehow illegitimate and that he didn't win the popular vote and all the crazy things he lies, he believes about himself that bothers him.
What one thing that's really interesting we talked about was the dinner they had
essentially it's a trumpian monologue, which I always assumed was
ok, so it was just like Trump spouting random lies at the FBI, director that doesn't really know and Comi just sort of sitting there and having to listen to it and like I could get how weird and how that could get you into a weird head space to the one that was pretty interesting.
Did concede. Was I credit him for he can see.
Pledging honest loyalty in the
Miss meeting where Trump tried to demand. Loyalty from him was a mistake and could have been misinterpreted. I thought that was actually kind of a good thing to be honest about. I also was interesting
tough. He was on rosenstein,
for his role in firing? Him said that Rosenstein acted dishonorably, but then he said that he didn't think Rosenstein would carry out the order to fire Muller because he's trying to
store some of his professional reputation, which is a server comments I mean I could see that, but for the time being he joined. Do I guess is that you know Tommy's point it's like rot, like you know,
James Comey's, in the balcony kind of like keeping a little count of balcony? What are you in a baseball thing message:
features, he's in the bleachers Sachsen Falcon a I'm, not you know commented, you know when you keep score yeah during a church game with anyway. The point is,
he's out there being like oh rods, worried about his reputation and oh Hillary had this. It's like he's this pilgrim in an unholy land. Meanwhile, what is this book? Man yeah? It's just an
for to restore your reputation. Actually exactly one of the in like there's. Some little lies in there that just annoyed me like he says the want like when he put out his memos after Trump tweeted. You better hope I don't have tape
Comey had his buddy release memos he taken at the time,
that the reason his buddy will eat them is because he didn't want to say yes,
talk to one reporter and then tell the rest of the reporters that were
driveway that he couldn't talk to them. I thought that was just such a ludicrous effort.
Acting some moral reason for his choice that it just like undercut half the rest of it. Now. The classic
Frankly, all this aside, like I don't like Jim
very much. I don't hate him. I do think like you, that he's a decent person, I think, he's terra,
political judgment. I think his letter in
deeply impacted the election. I'm also reminded that
Bill Clinton's meeting with Loretta Lynch was such a mistake and then such a massive inflection point an like whether or not it was spun up to something that it should have been. Oh, my god,
I also was not thinking. He was not thinking very well there. You know not really really
push on that one. But I also go to your point in the interview he talks about that bedside moment with Ashcroft and
Fascinating, which is fascinating, should go. Read the transcript about it, but James Comey is also the person who stood up for principle there, and so I I. What I also think is wrong is because James Comey has caused this disaster. I think it could be too easy to dismiss him out right. I I do think it's important that we maintain a complicated view of James James Comey yeah. We look. We talk all the time about voters as pundits now,
it's also something that infects like bureaucrats and law enforcement officials and other people in government like when you see the world like a pundit us, and you start judging based on politics and you let the politics.
Your head, you're, not going to make a very good decision. Yeah, that's I think that's James
let me stopping FBI director and became a pundit and it may cause the downfall of our country.
Can we drafted a letter 'cause, he went to five hundred and thirty eight and figured out pretty good. On the other hand, that means he did see Nate Silver saying that letter did cause the outcome. You know here as well. Stephanopoulos brought it up to him. He said. Nate silver is a pretty compelling case for why it costs
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Let's talk about Michael Kahn 'cause. It was a very tough day in court for team crime affect affair.
Well Judge, rejected an attempt by President Trump and Michael Cohen to block prosecutors from reviewing documents and communications at the FBI took from Cohen's office in hotel room. The judge also for
going to reveal the name of the one client had tried to keep secret and that client is longtime friend of the pod, Sean Hannity sure
not the Sean Hannity from television, the very one. This ain't, let's bring out the cork in red string here,
Where does he fit into this puzzle guys? What what guy
he's the peace that the dog got and you didn't need anyway and then in terms of the puzzle we like, we know, Michael Collins, not a real lawyer, he's a weird sex or does we can pies taxi cab, medallions and those of the strength in this is that to
is a business. He did that are relevant. Here are essentially hush payments to a very senior
the official and for Donald Trump.
We don't know what work he did for Sean, but I mean I just
sound good, Michael Cohen,
is a lawyer in the same way, Sean Hannity is a journalist right by the way, like all these people on Twitter never like,
is Sean Hannity, going to recuse himself from talking about Michael Cohen. What is this 'cause, I'm like yeah,
Up until today, I thought handy was a real straight shooter that James Comi, a Fox news at the column like recused himself, when he got us a swear, an oath. When we talk like this in Fox NEWS, punishing him 'cause he's a fucking psycho who goes on the air every night and says whatever the hell. He was, he said. He said that Hillary was in Cahoots with Whitey. Bulger were also disappointed that Sean Hannity didn't reveal to us that he was using job blocking Michael Cohens legal services. Shocker they talk on the phone every night, yeah, I'm so disappointed. It's so revealing too, that no literally no human being on earth was like
it's just like yeah. I guess that makes sense. Moving on sure. What are your you shine him he's explanation is all I think I once I gave him ten dollars and remember real ST fighter and that you must have taken that as attorney client privilege. Yet no okay, I'm sure that's the right when you submit documents to court well, so how how screwed?
Michael Cohen and Donald Trump, to be things like why work so hard to keep federal prosecutors from even reviewing
information seized in the FBI raid before they could review it? First, I don't know I mean
Donald Trump, doesn't email. Who knows what written Doc
he has. I think what we know is that Donald
has a business empire that is
built on working with a whole bunch of corrupt people around the world. It is
total Shell game, like I don't think he's actually successful businessman, I think he's likely engage in potentially
activities via his businesses and Michael Cohen would have the receipt. We also know
Michael is not a very good lawyer, he's incredibly stupid
he created the shell. L cease to make these payments and you use the same one over and over again and that's how we got by the hush money payments. Yeah he's not a scrupulous individual he's, not like it's, not a government. So we've got the understatement of the pot, not a scrupulous individual. You know, I was also thinking like the wind scene investigation.
What what came out of that investigation was that some of the most respected lawyers in the country were engaged in DIS.
Couple and criminal or near criminal behavior. What we're learning is just how much cream
ality goes on every single day for powerful people like Donald Trump,
and they just were not ready for this kind of scrutiny. They just weren't built well yeah. I mean D
They also confirmed on Friday. The cone has been under criminal investigation in New York for months because of his business dealings, which, by the
I mean Donald Trump, calling him whatever he said, could have been picked up by the FBI. There's a very good chance. It was if you
from is like random Android phone from the executive time could have been picked up by a half dozen intelligence, foreign intelligence services
This is a monumentally stupid thing to do.
There is a reason that what's gotten Donald Trump, the most
set about Muller, and all these investigations is every time the business stuff comes up yep. This is why the tax returns weren't released. This is why
Time said that he tried to fire Muller.
Back in December because of the Deutsche Bank story, 'cause, they were going to get records from Deutsche Bank. This is why he went
easy last week about the Cohen raid. This is why
The New York Times story also said that this is the
the kitchen they're most worried about in the White House, more so the other ways so called red line. There is through an interview with every time something off club about his business deals that he knows are criminal. This is the part of the movie conspiracy theory, or we find out that MEL Gibson is Craig
because it all really happened to him an it's all, very bizarre. He pardons Scooter Libby.
Because he was so passionate about that way. The way this man was had been abused by the system give me a break
called Michael Cohen and a Michael going just skips court to hang out with a bunch of goons in a park. You know, I you. We have no idea what that conversation is about. We have no idea, what's going through Michael called Dumb had
I went to high school with a bunch of Michael Collins and I don't know what they were thinking when they were beating the hell out of me. So whatever you know, I don't want Dane to understand, but when the Michael Kohn sitting in front of me in science class in the Michael home sitting behind me in signing class lifted up my desk and then dropped to the ground, just to get the teacher to turn around, I don't know why
did that either feels like we just went to another place anyway. I don't know why it is just like what happened last week. I don't know why that Michael Kohn killed the fish for my science experiment that very same year and the point, because the Michael Cohen stories just continued
also have story on Friday in mcclatchey ran this. That Muller has evidence that Cohen was
in fact, in Prague in two thousand and sixteen, which Cohen still denies, which would confirm part of the steel dossier which basically says that cone went to Prague in order to collude with.
Russians question about this series. No outlet, since Friday has confirmed this. The service based on two sources, familiar with the matter it seems,
that the sources would be from Mullers team 'cause. They have not leaked so there's been
question of. Is this story true with it too good to be true? What do you guys think about that
Prague. I do believe rider. I do believe the smoking gun will be. The fridge magnet Michael Kahn got for his wife, but other than that. I have no thoughts get one of those
little balls, you shake. It makes a snow storm the Prague Castle. I don't know I mean it is weird that no one else has been able to confirm this. It also just feel
like the most easily knowable fact like did you go
to Prague or not. There will be flight records records of your
phone like whatever it would be required to run something like this down a passport whatever, even if he is a burner passport? Even if you,
Germany into Prague, 'cause he use the Schengen visa and you don't have to like it another I don't whatever like. We should be able to know this, and it's strange that mcclatchey.
An island on this one
we're. So where does this all leave? Next I mean I'm talking to you know Adam Davidson a little bit about his piece. You know the end stage of Donald Trump's presidency based
the theory, is you know where
to see now what's come?
with Cohen and all the business stuff like this is where all this leads, and this is where the crime is, and what and what happens from here
The question is like we have been here very doubtful that Republicans will ever impeach this president ever and even if the Democrats take back the house.
And even the Senate
sixty seven votes. Sixty six votes in the Senate to impeach the guy is a tall order. Is it
tall order. If there are multiple,
names of money laundering and all kinds of business stuff? I don't know what you guys think
I don't know, I think it's. You know
the even on this remember to stay out of the prediction: business yep. We have very little control on this. To this day, we still have very little information compared to what Muller has compared to what's happening. You're, really, just don't know,
enough and there's also very little. We can do you know the only upshot of anything we learn in the next six months is: do whatever it takes to win the house, do whatever it takes,
when there's no all roads lead back to the head right yet about whether you're talking about molar tax cuts healthcare, whatever the impeachment of political decision,
would require you know, and we know that trumps's approval is locked at around four thousand and forty three percent, his quote
shoot. Some of the Middle Fifth Ave is proven to be true time and time again and you wouldn't lose supporters. The people in Congress that we need to vote in support of an impeachment range from
easy to carry in the one to a relatively brave, are retiring, so I you know, I think we need to plan for a huge one. In the mid terms, they give us a chance to run a whole other series of investigations in the house with Subpoena power that can bottle up his agenda and continue to make him just be ineffective, and then we kick his in twenty one yeah. I also just there is debate about the atom, the atom Davis in peace, and we said your conversation,
and it was you know there are that that the kind you know Nate Silver and some other thing. I was just too rosy because how it's gonna play out in terms of politics, that's an import debate, but my reaction to it, which are separate from that which is, after the initial shock of Trump Becoming President wore off. There was a period of time that has always been the period of time. That, to me, is the most terrifying and is the time between from being out of office and Trump, knowing that his days are numbered in one way or another, and at the stories are salacious, it feels good to see the words and stages about trump. It feels good to think that there might be just as that. These people might pay a price, but I do think it's always important to just remember that Donald Trump is the most powerful human being on
planet earth and it's dangerous and it's dangerous every day and the more he's cornered the more dangerous he gets. We've already seen him make decisions on Syria that, whatever the merits some people claim about these strikes. We cannot take at face value because we know
What motivates him- and it's certainly not care for the people of Syria, and so that's just some.
To keep in mind. It's remember how how bad our situation is, even if things do start coming
yeah, because one end stage of Donald Trump's presidency is it's clear that he has.
The number of crimes, and yet he remains in office because they won't impeach him yeah. And so then we have a real constitutional crisis, where the president has decided that he is above the law and he has committed crimes, and yet he is still the press
I read that and thought like. This is certainly one outcome of this piece. I didn't. I didn't see it as something like.
No, I know you didn't either and the other thing too is we also don't know what happens when they're start to be charges at the state level out of
work. We don't know if that's going to happen or not, but if that were to happen and all of a sudden, Donald Trump realizes that the pardon power he is familiar with and is that it knows
his nose is unlimited. Basically, with the with the exception of impeachment, is in his back pocket to promise people once that's removed. I don't know what he'll do we just don't know. Yeah you mentioned Syria. We did launch an air strike against Syria on Friday, even though it seems like that's five years ago sure to let's talk about this time. He. Why did the US, France and the UK do this? What was the goal? Will it make a difference? They made the choice to the three countries to get together to watch the strikes his side again used. Chemical weapons use, chlorine, gas, maybe a mix of korean Serin gas.
On a group of civilians and sort of one of the last vestiges of cereal that he's trying to clear. You know it was a little bit bigger than the last strike. The last strike was on one runway. This one was on three targets. Instead of one there are twice as many missiles. It was basically chemical weapons facilities. It wasn't all of his chemical weapons facilities, we avoided.
Areas where Russians or Iranians could be also be working, presumably to avoid retaliation
good. That is a coalition, but I mean, I think I think the key with these foreign policy decisions he's making. Is
to try to do a better job than media writ large, but judging outcomes, an not sort of events as they occur. If this strike prevents aside from using chemical weapons ever again, I think that's a good thing. Everyone gave him credit the last time he struck a response for chemical weapons use and it happened again. So obviously it wasn't successful despite decorations that this is the night he became
in in in sort of the the you know, orgy of the excitement on cable news panels. Chemical weapons are treated differently by the international community because they're just horrific an indiscriminate killers of of people, civilians, kids, I mean the view. Videos are off
I think we should be out of Trump. Probably did this 'cause, he saw it on tv, you know because the there are horrific attacks
civilians everyday, not involving chemical weapons that are killing half a million plus
people and apparently like after the strike Assad went on and just started. You know launching his regular.
Yeah, they drop killing civilians. They drop. Do that barrels full of bomb
and shrapnel that just destroy people destroyed communities destroyed hospitals, whatever it takes, they targeted journalists we learned recently and tried to kill foreign.
Unless you're dead, so the criticism of the broader ST,
g is that he doesn't have one and that the limited presence we have there is involved in taking out ISIS and he wants to pull
two. There are no easy answers here. You know. Hopefully this will detur Chemical weapons used 'cause, it's horrific, but you know we should wait and see. It seems like it has in the past has not invest little bit. You thoughts on Syria. I don't. I don't have any thoughts,
I think it's some there's a lot of company people on the internet per usual, but I don't. I don't, have any thoughts on it sincerely and the only argument I did find persuasive it's a lot of people noting that out. If we truly believe Donald Trump is unfit- and we do if we believe he's not in any way someone with the facility to make decisions of life and that that he shouldn't have that power than not it's quite a thing to turn around and say I support the strikes because you're, so
morning someone making decisions that you don't trust having this power in his hand, and so I am, I don't know-
You know, I think it's really hard
I I don't know what I would think of Hillary Clinton we're launching these strikes. I think I'd be similarly skeptical, but I do believe that there is a really strong argument for saying that I will not support Donald Trump taking any military action unless it's for the direct defense
United States. I also think there's a good argument to be made that many democrats are making that a president shouldn't be able to launch strikes like this unless they get an authorization from Congress, and this is why Barack Obama didn't end up striking. Syria is because he went to Congress after
and said you know, strike Syria launch missiles whatever and they said. Ok, we'll give me the authorization vote for and they're like. Oh no, no, no we're not going to do that at all, and I think
thought behind. That was that presidents have built up too much power to go to war whenever they please, and in specially in case you have a Donald Trump as President that the president should go to Congress
and get an authorization for war. I think that's right and I- and I would also, though, point out that Barack Obama did try to have it both ways, because what he said as I would like- converses authorization, but technically I don't need it yeah and we also took strikes in Libya without surgery. After I mean it's complicated like I don't
feel the need to like way in for against I'm sort of surprised. When I see so many people tweeting like this was right. This is wrong. I do think, like we don't know the outcome, so it's really hard
I guess you can grade sort of an individual choice and says support that. I don't think that's our job but broadly
the situation on the ground is not materially different. Today there is still no strategy. There is no plan
you better. I realized that Obama didn't fix it. In fact, he left Trump a pretty impossibly difficult problem to deal
I'm not in any way, proud or happy at the outcome in Syria, but
he let him what eleven refugees this year like there's a way you could help people and save lives. It's very easy that doesn't involve,
watching two hundred million dollars for the Tomahawk missiles yeah, and I just to go back to your point on on military force. I think it's not just because Trump is present. I think Trump exposes just have strange. Our way of handling military forces become that we've slowly March toward a situation and
The president is basically a dictator on foreign policy. Can act without any kind of authorization can waive the hand and say: oh my I have article two powers they're kind of in there somewhere and it's a rare time where you can say a pox on both their houses. Both sides have done
but it is really over decades that both parties have slowly but surely made it so that the president basically doesn't need Congress to launch a military strike and because of that Congress's responsibility and behavior has atrophy aid. Part of the reason presidents have not wanted to go to Congress. Is this
standing that Congress isn't up to it. Congress is gonna, be able to seriously debate this, and I want to write a version and commerce politics. They don't it's hard politics and they won't take the vote and self. Not even the Republicans are on Fox news screaming about the need for an attack. I know and is really based on who's present. You know that people have been consistent on this are actually people like Justin Amash, who is a right wing, can
TIM Kaine contain, but he noted that there were two letters that went out when a democrat President
Publicans write a letter that says you need Congress and it is dangerous. It is dangerous how powerful we made the presidency and we've talked about this before, but if anything can positive can come out of Trump, it could be devolving some of presidential power back to Congress and back to the states. J
call me that problem, one hashtag, no label Comi Lieberman, twenty twenty one other thing after that comes from this area issue. After the
strikes you and Ambassador Nikki Haley announced at the US will impose additional sanctions on Russia for enabling aside use of chemical weapons and then today, Trump says
just kidding he doesn't want to punish Russia. This comes on the heels of Washington Post piece that revealed that last month, Trump became furious when he
that the US had imposed, impose a harsher punishment on Russia for poisoning a former spy on british soil than american allies. Had
such curious behavior guys what is going on, not that anything funny coming out of this, but Trump decided to say,
mission accomplished, for some reason not about that just either reflecting
total indifference or ignorance of the history of that term. When it comes to warfare, and then
fake news media would seize on this, but it's such a great military term that it should be brought back use often, which is like
unbelievably stupid use often was so funny. Right means mega- oh my god anyway, but that brushes
is like is time he wanted dreaming about time. You wanna say like. Maybe,
the there's. No there there. Maybe this is all just conspiracy in our heads with Russia. Maybe there's nothing that and he goes and does something it's it's just like the only one, and you know I I only can and I go, and I read Glenn Greenwald writing about this. Who's been a real contrarian on and consistently contrarian on, and I think okay- maybe I maybe I'm part of a collective conventional
wisdom and we've kind of all deluded ourselves into believing there's something going on here in just saves just like some
we might behave if he thought that
they had a bunch of shit on him yeah, so we'll see. Ok when we come back our interview with New York
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something that happens at the end of your life. That makes sense with a lifelong thing. Pod save America is, as always,
you buy the cash, I have a cash app store, so
night Spencer Wong and I who often appears
our cash up at the star. We had ourselves some dinner
and then you know it's a Sunday night, we we wanted to watch a movie and there was a debate about what movie to watch
I wanted to watch the movie colossal starring Anne Hathaway, and he wanted to watch the movie pop star starring, Andy Samberg. Now
I'll watch, the Andy Samberg movies. You know, watch pops. No, I have it. I have it, but I was in the mood genuinely thought. I wanted to watch colossal and spell
there wasn't on board- and I said how about this I'll, just give you
five dollars, watch colossal 'cause. I was sick of arguing and I didn't want to watch colossal. You paid him hush money. I paid him money. I made it past the shoes, Michael Cohen, to do the deal. No, I used the cash a cash app can be your Michael Cohen right,
illegal fast, easy, Michael Cohen, right,
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So you can watch the movie. You want to watch 'cause you're
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you look. Com, nonplussed, Michael Cohen, use the cash
on the pod today, we're lucky to have staff writer through New Yorker, Adam Davidson, Adam welcome to pod, save America. Thank you so
it's thrilling to be here, so you wrote a piece for
the New Yorker last week that sparked a lot of conversation this weekend called the end stage of the Trump presidency, so
you say that the end game of this presidency now seems as clear as
and Games were in Iraq in the financial crises? What do you mean by that? Well,
this experience now twice in my adult life before as a journalist covering
sorry, where the facts that were
available to anybody who was able to see them were stark and clear. Zero in
three fairly early in the US occupation, it was
still clear to anyone in Baghdad, where I was that
this thing is a disaster. There is no plan
no vision. This occupation is going to go very, very, very badly and it was
like an analysis. It wasn't an opinion. It was clear, it was obvious. It was directly in front of our eyes and
I had a similar experience. I was pretty late to it, but in late, two thousand and seven once you really,
I understood the financial products that you know
later known as toxic assets like collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps. Once you really
the work of understanding them. You realize, oh, these things can't be
valued. There is no way once they start to fail to know how much they're worth there are true.
Millions of dollars of these that form much of the base capital of our global banking system.
Eventually people are going to know that and it's going to create a disaster an in both cases. I didn't know what exam
we would happen. I certainly wasn't predicting ISIS or Al Qaeda in Iraq or you know that Lehmann
There's would collapse on September 15th, and then we have this
run all the banks and and all the things we had. I didn't know what
What I did know is
I know a lot of things simply because I'm a reporter and I'm seeing things an egg
one. Who knows what I know.
Knows something really definitive is going to happen and that's how I feel about the Donald Trump story. I've spent much of the
last year and a half in depth studying the trump organization- and you know
I support the molar investigation and very
very curious to see what he finds, but I am sympathetic to those who are who are skeptical that Trump himself can be proven to,
colluded with the Russians. Obviously we already know that many people near him did, but I don't know where that investigate
but as soon as the investigation or a separate
location, we don't know exactly turn to Michael Cohen, Trump's long time I don't want to,
lawyer, but Trump's longtime associate an occasional lawyer. So called
so called Legs Ackley once his office was rated. I was like. Oh ok. This story is over this,
the matter of time. We don't know, I don't know if it's three,
insert three years. I don't know if President Trump gets impeached and the specific political tragic
but what I do know is of
Actually all of America will understand what I have known for year and a half and so have a lot of other people that you know that
organization was, as I said, my peace, a sad
small affair that Mono
sighs their willingness to do business with some of the most disturbing corrupt,
girls around the world, and I think that we are
on a train that is going to increasingly bring that out, and I don't see how his presidency survives now, what specifically about Michael Cohen
um sort of triggered. This revelation for you, I know, he's someone that you've covered along time as a reporter for those who have
followed his part of the larger Trump story. You know who is he and where does he fit into the larger trump Universe? And why does the raid
betrayed on Michaels Collins Office in his hotel room sort of to you
signal? Ok now we know where this thing is going o MIKE.
No one's role within the Trump Organization
not as a lawyer,
are bunch of lawyers that work for the Trump Organization, twelve to fifteen at any given time who would write contracts and settle lawsuits, and that kind of thing
Michael Cohen, was another category. He was a dealmaker. His job was to go around and
find deals and bring them back to the big man to Donald
Trump. An then if those deals went well, Michael Cohen would get a big bonus at the end of the year and he comes into the
Trump orbit after an amazing history of
you know, really the sum of the bottom feeding IST bottom feeding of the New York world he's involved in some very sketchy taxi cab, businesses,
involved in things that look an awful lot like insurance fraud. He works for
series of lawyers and business, people who end up being convicted of all sorts of crimes, and then he comes to
The Trump organization, just as the Trump Organization is making this massive shift so in
two thousand and six two thousand and seven the Trump organization basically makes two simultaneous shifts one. Is they effectively stop being a real estate developer? They're, not
borrowing, hundreds of millions of dollars of capital to buy properties or
properties and then sell them off or rent them off and manage them as they had done.
Can't get any money. No banks will lend them any money, so they start doing this licensing stuff where
some other developer who's building a building will pay the money to put their name on it.
One major shift in their business.
The other major shift. Is they start going overseas and they're not like trying to do Trump, Paris and Trump.
They're doing Trump, Baku and Trump, but to me
and you know Trump Uraguay Trump, Panama, they're signing
with developers all over the world in sort of third tier markets and with frankly, like third tier oligarchs. These aren't
The top oligarchs of Azerbaijan or Indian.
These are people who, even in the context of those fairly corrupt countries, are seen as sort of out of the mainstream corrupt oligarchs,
It's sort of amazing- I mean it. The the Trump organization was tiny. You know we're talking a couple dozen people at the big headquarters, but the people doing
It's foreign deals, it's pretty much, just Ivanka,
Don Junior and Michael Cohen, and
doing at least having meetings on
since it dozens of deals all over the world in countries.
Very little about and with people who are very, very sketchy. People have been convicted and some have been investigated, but not convey.
For money laundering, bank fraud, sanctions violations, money laundering for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Sort of an amazing cast of characters and Cohen
is the main person whose name isn't trump? Who knows all this and
I was involved in all this and recorded phone calls, presumably about this and wrote emails about
and if you've seen going ever on tv, you know this is not a guy who's, particularly careful about what he says. How do you think
from organization and Cohen, and the kids have sort of avoided,
running afoul of the law, with all
these deals with all of
money launderers and other
nefarious characters up until now, so I mean first of all, I think
hope. Eventually, we as a nation get to this. It's
really easy to be a white collar criminal in America?
that is one lesson of the Trump presidency and the Trump crowd.
I was talking to someone in former
New York state regulator of real estate and finance, so told Maine.
There was an actual discussion at the highest levels of New York state saying we should really cut down on all this money laundering.
The decision was we can't it would devastate the New York economy. If we didn't,
you know all this money laundering flow into real estate and the same can be said of LA in Miami at London and
So one thing is we just don't prosecute white collar crime nearly as much as we should. You know every year,
There's? Maybe a couple dozen foreign corrupt practices act like bribing foreign officials cases.
I'm willing to bet there's a lot more than a couple dozen Americans who are bribing foreign officials. So that's one thing, but even in
context, the Trump Organization are outliers. They took enormous legal risks, kind of crazy legal risks. Really
but they were also fairly small and if you look at sort of who, the department of
this has gone after or who New York State
in general has gone after they're. Looking for you, big big dollar, paydays,
hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, big international crimes, billion dollar crimes and
The Trump organization was pretty penny ante, a few million here, a few million in there, which just doesn't add up to much plus he's a big
Loudmouth and he'd be a pain in the neck. To prosecute I mean some
of conspiracy theories about it, but you know, and they who knows everything turns out to be true when you're thinking about these guys. But I
He was too small and also he was really lucky because he's a rich white man and doing financial crime, which is essentially legal in America. So we started by talking about sort of the potential collusion with Russia.
One place where the Russia story and the Trump
Organization story could intersect is obviously business.
Deals made with Russia.
I always wonder if there's a possibility that the leverage that Putin or
oligarchs in Russia might have over Trump in the trunk organization has to do with business deals. They've tried to enter into
weather or money laundering, schemes between rush
in the Trump organization as your reporting to
do anything about that
yeah I mean there's essentially zero question. I don't. I mean the Trump
patient doesn't even deny it that
a lot of russian money laundering funds. Another former
Soviet Union funds flowed into the Trump organization. Now what
they would say is
well, we never knew for sure, and we did whatever checks we could do
and they might also say so
you did? A lot of money
went to all of New York real estate. Everybody was doing business with money launderers 'cause, that's
high end luxury real estate is in as I
and in New York is as well as Miami La London. You know these kind of big Vancouver these big global cities. So I think that what will become a key key question is:
what did the Trump organization know and that's where I think Michael Cohen, is so crucial. You know, based on certain
this company for a long time. Talking a lot of people, who've worked there who work there. Now. My hunch is my
this is they knew a lot and that they essentially were actively participating in financial crimes. That might turn out to be not true
I can't prove that today, but when you do essentially the same kind of business with the same kind of
over and over and over again, it's hard to imagine it's just a coincidence that you always are doing business with money launderers and and other financial fraudsters, but Michael come one knows, and you know if he really did, as as all reporting suggest record all as phone calls are, many of them have his emails. I think that starts to come out and it starts to look really bad. You know some of my friends at
me and my c and and pro Publica injure, burn Stein and some others did amazing work on this case in New York in two thousand ten, two thousand eleven, when the Trump kids. If aka and Don Junior did a financial fraud, they lied about how many people had bought units and the
Trump Soho Hotel, yeah, and we know there was an email between. If I can don Junior saying boy, I hope no one finds out what we committed that crime. Essentially something right and effects of these are not people who are obsessed with you know, email security. I mean it was we're learning like crazy things from the legal proceedings in the common case. Yet we just want to
give it one of cones mystery clients that he hadn't wanted to reveal was actually Sean Hannity. What are you most eager to learn from how the Cohen case plays out
what it? What are you gonna be looking for over these next couple weeks? So certainly like what is the scope of this inquiry and how you know how far back is it going? How thoroughly into these business deals? Is it going yeah? We've heard a lot that about it. Yep things going into Colin's personal background, so yeah we're deals.
Involving taxi cab licenses and things like that. We've heard a lot about Stormy Daniels and all these hush money payments. But
I'm really hoping we're gonna get to the nitty gritty of the deals that come when actually worked on the Trump Tower Moscow that never happened. The Trump Tower Georgia in, but to me the
never happened and by the way, I'm not saying for sure about either of those deals, but real estate deals that don't have
then, are actually often a major sign of money laundering, and why is that 'cause? You can open up the
fat or we can announce Favreau Luxury estates, an you know, sunny Cayman Islands or whatever and then
We sort of have an excuse to start sending money around the world for architects and engineers and consultants and labor companies that are going to get our construction contracts, and if we
ever build the thing. Then nobody really ever checks, usually so so you can now.
If you want to wander you know a million
are too many in there, if you start wanting to launder hundreds of millions, then you probably do have to start building things, and you know. Obviously, some people did build Trump Tower projects that look really weird. They don't make sense as businesses there was far too much money spent on them, and so you do look at those projects.
And wonder what was going on. So that's what I'm hoping for that that we're gonna learn a lot about the deals coming worked on how he was communicating with Donald Trump Senior with a vodka and tonic junior. It has you know, Donald Trump, the President up famously doesn't use email so
we might not see incriminating emails, but we might hear phone calls who knows that that those are the things that I'm very eager for so last question.
People criticize your piece for being overly rosy about the outcome of the Trump presidency, noting that the political dynamics would have to change pretty radically in order for impeachment to be a realistic possibility. I didn't actually read your piece is being predictive in terms of removal from office, but what? What was your reaction to that criticism? Yeah I like it. I didn't make a specific projection. I mean I wasn't saying he will be impeached by the end of this year or here or in the in the next three weeks. I think you know it was sort of more of an essay as
Someone who has had this experience now twice and I think now, three times of seeing facts on the ground. That tell me a very clear picture and believe
that, eventually, public opinion changes. You know changes on May. First, the day, George W Bush landed on the aircraft carrier and said mission accomplished
his approval ratings, the Iraq WAR's approval ratings were seventy percent and
I was seeing something on the ground that told Maine this Iraq war is a disaster, and eventually
will know that, and eventually people knew that and opinions changed. And now I don't think you could fine
seventy percent of Americans who say yeah, I supported it, and then I changed my mind now. They all remember that they were always against it. They always know it's going to be. A disaster
same with the financial crisis in Say December, two thousand and seven when I was really engaged and finally got it through my thick skull that this was a real disaster. It was far more
common to hear people on tv say markets are great everything's going to be fine. That crisis has passed and I had a strong feeling note. This is a disaster, an it's going to come home to roost, and I think that there is a truth to the Trump Organization, which is therefore truth about Donald Trump himself. That will come out and if I had to predict the steps I mean I think you start seeing.
People closer and closer to Trump, Michael Cohen, think there's at least a decent chance of Ivanka and Donald Junior and Jared being arrested indicted. I think that we know that Trump did business with people who seem
to have likely laundered money for the iranian IRAN's Revolutionary Guard people involved in sex trafficking, people involved in a whole host of really terrible crimes. And yes, I believe that what
It is twenty three percent of Americans or something like that are going to go to their graves. No matter wat, loving, Donald Trump and thinking he's the greatest, but I think that you know those kind of
you know the people who didn't vote for Trump in the primaries, but those Republicans who still support him. I think that my prediction is that will soften
matically. Obviously the midterms are going to make a huge, huge difference, but I mean
I want to ask you sorry. You said the last question I want to ask you like how you know I've been part
shaping narratives. In some sense, I, like I, worked on the movie, the big short I worked on this radio documentary
pull up money that I think did have a role in shaping how people understood the financial crisis
and then with the rocket was more like just the accum
elation overtime of just unbearable news. But what is your sense? I'm am I to
Stick or do national narratives change abruptly and people who actually know the truth about a person might have an insight. I kind of frame that question in a way to make. You say that I'm right, but no look at me,
I thought about this a lot when I listen to that podcast slow burn about Watergate 'cause. I hadn't been familiar with like the detailed history of Watergate right and in that pike
they basically say. You know it wasn't until like Nick
and had most of his base with him, even through
a whole bunch of allegations it wasn't until,
there's a realization that there were tapes and then the tapes were
ultimately released. The public opinion turned hard against Richard Nixon. Now,
I could see happening, is if a bunch of very senior
will start going down like it if Don Junior and Jared and Aniva
go or any combination of those people are actually arrested if they are charged with crimes, and this starts coming out and it appears that Donald Trump New, I do think public opinion
turns against him even more than we're seeing now
I wonder what will have
In Congress, like, I am very skeptical that this Congress, these Republicans, will ever vote to impeach
man, and so like the best scenario I can get to is Democrats take back the house in twenty eighteen and if there are crimes that are revealed,
then Democrats could impeach him in the House and the Senate. You know you still need six thousand six hundred and sixty seven votes and trying to get from the Democrats having forty, nine or fifty votes to sixty seven.
Like I can get them to maybe fifty five five thousand six hundred and fifty seven like I don't know if I can get them all the way there. So I
worry about him being impeached over this
I could see like narrative, though, like public opinion, narrative
fighting hard against him, but the problem is most of these Republicans in Congress. Answer to this very poor.
Arise based. It isn't sconce in this Fox news, universe and
Oh, I worry about that, but I I took your pieces like this
is going to be the end stage of the Trump presidency. He this is the truth,
will come out and he will forever be known by history as
person. Who has you know committed
all. These crimes have been involved in many of these crimes and Eve
that ends in something truly terrible, which is a constitutional crisis, because we have a president that was involved in a lot of crimes who still in office or it ends with impeachment.
Friends with him, ultimately being being
being reelected in two thousand and twenty. So that's how I took it all yeah. Absolutely I completely agree with what you
Just like I didn't know, we were still in Iraq for a long long time after Americans realized it was a disaster. It's not like a month later, oh boy, ok, let's get out, it took a very long time, 'cause, it's a very intractable
problem. I'd also say by the way that I think this is it like. This is what the presidency is fully like: Trump's own fantasy and, frankly, my fear.
That may be Muller would come out with something that's like wow there. You know he had a bunch of sketchy people around him, but he himself didn't do anything and something that could be sold by Fox NEWS is an exoneration would come out, and I didn't think that was likely, but I thought that was a real possibility, but I now think with the southern district of New York looking in into crimes, that would also be crimes in the state of New York and maybe other states that this is it. This is a scandal plagued presidency from here on out and then that's not gonna change, there's no
post crisis moment for this president? No, I think that's right. Well, it will be an interesting couple weeks, couple months as much of this as revealed in court in other places. So thank you for joining us. This is great and come back
Thank you so much, I loved it. Hannity two thousand and twenty take care
so for today, thank you to the New Yorkers Adam Davidson for joining us speaking of the new Yorker. Congratulations arrow Ronan Farrow, Pulitzer Prize friend of the
Add my longtime golf buddy for a Pulitzer Prize, so proud of you read it. It's incredible, I'm doing an event in that way, pretty soon with a Pulitzer Prize, win,
for his new book. Oh yeah, what's it called again? It's called war on peace, the end of diplomacy, war on pc ended diplomacy in the design of american influence. Anyway, that's our show for today. That's our show, and thanks again, James Comi for being our guest, and thanks did you miss that we put the entire five or transcript online thanks this as a high school for the chip on my shoulder that drives me to this very day thanks. Everyone.
Transcript generated on 2019-10-30.