Trump Attorney Michael Cohen To Be Sentenced In New York; Heather Heyer’s Mother On Jury’s Life In Prison Recommendation;
<Show: New Day>
<Date: December 12, 2018>
<Head: Trump Attorney Michael Cohen To Be Sentenced In New York;
Heather Heyer’s Mother On Jury’s Life In Prison Recommendation;
President Trump Threatens Government Shutdown Over Border Wall
Funding; British Prime Minister Faces No-Confidence Vote Amid Brexit
Turmoil. Aired 7:30-8a ET>
<Sect: News; International>
[07:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- around the Russia investigation or is Michael Cohen’s case so unique because of his tax evasion and his taxi business that it really isn’t transferable -- what’s happening to him?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Oh, I think it is -- it is a cautionary tale.
I mean, look at Paul Manafort -- and Paul Manafort also had a variety of shady business deals that got him convicted, but it was his involvement with Donald Trump that turned it into a major criminal case.
I mean, you know, one of the larger stories of the Trump presidency is how many people he’s brought down around him. I mean, how many people involved with Donald Trump, since he became a candidate, have had their reputations enhanced, have had their business opportunities enhanced? How many people -- you know, lives are better off? I’m talking about the people around him. Not many.
I mean, most of the people, whether it’s a Rex Tillerson or a Jeff Sessions or certainly, all of the people who have been criminally charged around Donald Trump have been brought down.
And as he thinks about bringing in a new White House chief of staff -- you know, who wants to be part of that environment? I think in that respect, Michael Cohen and everyone involved with the Trump presidency represent a cautionary tale.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The president claims that 10 to 12 very qualified people want to go in, although we know it’s not Nick Ayers. We know it’s not Rick Santorum who said last night on our air that he wouldn’t take the job.
Jeff, this week, there’s something almost every day. I mean, there’s Michael Cohen’s sentencing, there was a Flynn sentencing memo last night, there was a Manafort hearing yesterday, there are more hearings as the week goes on.
How closely do you get the sense the president is paying attention to these developments? JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: Oh, I think he’s paying close attention to these developments and I think he’s watching everything. The man -- we all know that he watches a lot of television so it would be hard not to escape what’s going on by turning on the T.V.
He -- you know, in our interview we talked about a whole lot of things, not only this -- the Russia probe and Michael Cohen, but we also talked about China and trade.
One of the -- one of the bigger headlines, honestly, that he said and that he’s dealing with is he suggested that he’d be willing to intervene with the Justice Department on behalf of that CFO from Huawei, the Chinese company, who was detained in Canada. He said he’d be willing to intervene on that if it were part of a trade deal with China. So he’s looking at that.
He’s prepared for the Democrats or at least he’s having to prepare for the Democrats taking control of the House.
And, dealing with international trade negotiations which have been hitting markets and hurting his -- potentially, his chances of reelection in 2020.
CAMEROTA: And, Jeff, did you talk about the Nancy Pelosi-Chuck Schumer -- any possible government shutdown and all of that drama?
MASON: We talked about it a little bit, yes. It was -- the interview was just a couple of hours, I think, after that raucous meeting with the Democratic leadership.
And, you know, he said -- we asked him if -- my colleague Roberta Rampton, who was also in the interview with us -- I think she asked the question about whether or not he would consider any particular deal -- or spending deal to prevent a government shutdown, and he said we’d have to look at it.
So he said -- he sort of indicated he’s willing and able to work with Democrats going forward but that there are two options. Either Democrats will go down -- and this was his framing -- Democrats will go down the track of doing legislation and he believes they can get a lot of legislation done or they’ll go down the track of what he called presidential harassment, and that’s referring to subpoenas and investigations.
And he said there’s no middle ground, it’s going to be one or the other. That’s the way he believes it will go.
CAMEROTA: Fascinating stuff.
Jeff Mason, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much.
MASON: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: All right. Next, a woman who has endured so much pain -- the loss of her daughter who was killed after a murderer drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters at that white nationalist rally -- neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville. A jury recommended life in prison for the man that murdered her.
Heather Heyer’s mom is going to join us, next.
[07:38:00] CAMEROTA: A jury in Charlottesville, Virginia recommended life in prison for the man who plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at that white nationalist rally last year. He killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured dozens more. A judge will decide his punishment next year.
Joining us now is Heather Heyer’s mom, Susan Bro. Susan, thank you so much for being with us. We know it’s been a very long and emotional trial for you, so thank you for being here.
And tell us what that moment was like when you heard the jury recommending life in prison.
SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF HEATHER HEYER, CO-FOUNDER, HEATHER HEYER FOUNDATION: Honestly, I was relieved. I think that for public safety that needed to happen. But I also felt that it was not only important that Heather and the survivors have their day of justice, but also that we send a very strong message that we will not tolerate hate.
CAMEROTA: And, in fact, you made a personal decision that I read not to be consumed by hate during this ongoing ordeal. How did you manage to achieve that?
BRO: I knew that he was in the hands of justice. Had he been out roaming around, I can’t promise how I would have felt. But I felt secure in handing him over to prosecution and to judgment that it was not my problem. I have plenty else to do with the Heather Heyer Foundation.
And I just didn’t feel like I needed to consume my own self with hate because hate just consumes the one that hates. It doesn’t do anything to the person that you hate. So in my life, I prefer not to hate people.
CAMEROTA: I think that that’s a goal that a lot of people aim for but it’s not always that easy, obviously, when you’re watching --
[07:40:00] BRO: No, it’s not.
CAMEROTA: I mean, I don’t have to tell you -- watching your daughter’s murderer in trial.
What was the entire trial like?
BRO: It was emotionally exhausting. I felt like I was on stage all the time. The -- a lot of people were focused on me and my reactions.
It was particularly difficult the day that they played videos of the actual crime as it was committed and the day that they talked about Heather’s autopsy report. Those were extremely difficult days, I will tell you. I sat and cried a lot in court during those.
CAMEROTA: That must have been awful -- just awful.
And I know that you had an opportunity to make a victim’s impact statement. And so, what did you want to say to the court and to the killer?
BRO: I basically said Heather’s death was an explosion in our lives. It robbed us of someone who was loving and caring and committed to family, committed to justice, committed to equality. Robbed the world of a wonderful person, something that --
You know, I’d finally gotten through the adolescent years, which were tough. I had gotten through her twenties, which were interesting, to say the least, as she established herself in her own apartment and working and things.
And we were finally at a point where I felt like we had an actual friendship beyond just mother-daughter friendship and we enjoyed each other’s company. A couple of times a month we would meet for dinner and have long talks. We would text each other once in a while.
Someone falsely reported or accidentally reported once that she was my best friend. No, I allow my adult children to be adults. I don’t try to be overly involved in their lives. But if they want to be friends, that’s wonderful for me and she and I had finally gotten to that place.
And it was -- it was not the death in the family I would have expected. It was definitely a punch in the jaw.
CAMEROTA: I think that we can all appreciate how heartbreaking that is.
And you’ve said that you don’t want Heather to be silenced. That this murder couldn’t silence her. And so, what is Heather’s message?
BRO: Well, I say that Heather stood that day with her friends just simply as a support and an ally to say black lives do matter. There’s no place for hate in our community -- and I use our community and really, referring to our world -- and everybody needs to stand up and get busy. It’s one thing to give lip service, it’s another thing to see some actual work done.
And honestly, I can’t say that we have made a lot of really noticeable changes for marginalized communities in the last year and a half. I feel that a lot of people will think that this trial is the end of the story, and this was not the beginning of the story nor is it the end of the story.
The Civil Rights Movement has gone on for decades, particularly here in Charlottesville, and it will continue.
BRO: I just don’t want people to think that we’re done now. CAMEROTA: Yes.
BRO: First off, the trials are not done. They will go on for years, most likely.
CAMEROTA: Yes, there are other hate --
BRO: But the main thing is that they work.
CAMEROTA: I hear you, and there are other hate crimes --
CAMEROTA: -- that he will be facing.
I just want to, last, ask you because Heather’s story has gotten so much attention, because the president inserted himself in that way and it became so controversial where he said there are good people on both sides, did you hear from the president during the course of this?
BRO: So, I’ve told this story a number of times but I’ll tell it again because people may have forgotten.
I turned my phone off on the way to the funeral because I was trying to concentrate and I’d already had one politician call me, and so I just turned my phone off.
And we did the funeral, we had the reception afterward, we went home. Some family came home with us. They stayed awhile. Then we took Heather’s dog to the vet.
And by the time I turned my phone on it was about 10:30 at night. And meanwhile, I was watching the news and I saw that there had been three phone calls from the White House during the funeral, itself. They each sounded a bit increasingly frantic, which I thought was odd.
[07:45:06] But, yes, once I heard what he had to say, I just said I think he’s busy and I’m busy and neither one of us really has time to talk to one another.
CAMEROTA: And you --
BRO: The only thing I ever have particularly had to say to him is please think before you speak.
CAMEROTA: And that’s still your message? You still feel that way today?
BRO: Oh, yes. Well, on the anniversary of her death, I believe he had a large crowd of bikers come to the White House. And I have nothing against bikers, in general, except for the ones that proudly display their Nazi slogans and their Nazi tattoos, many of whom were there at the White House.
And again, he was delighted with the crowd, so I took that as a dog whistle. He celebrates people that I choose not to align myself with. CAMEROTA: Well, Susan --
BRO: Not the bikers, but the Nazis.
Susan, we are very, very sorry for your loss. We know, as you say, this is not the end -- not even for you. This is just the beginning. There are other cases coming up that he’ll be facing.
But we really appreciate you taking this moment and just letting us know what these past months have been like. Thank you very much for being here.
BRO: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
CAMEROTA: John --
BERMAN: Great discussion.
So, can Democratic leaders and President Trump make a deal to keep the government open? We’re going to ask a senator if there’s any room for negotiation in this budget battle -- this battle over funding for the president’s border wall. That’s next.
[07:50:29] BERMAN: President Trump has threatened to shut down the government over his demand for billions of dollars for his border wall. Listen to the president, yesterday, with Democratic leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck because the people of this country don’t want criminals, and people that have lots of problems, and drugs pouring into our country.
So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Joining me now is Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Senator, thank you so much for being with us.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), MEMBER, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE AND ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, FORMER DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You bet, John.
BERMAN: You just heard the governor -- or the president, I should say, say he would be proud to shut down the government over border security.
I guess my question to you and Democrats is would you be equally proud to withhold your votes for funding for the president’s border wall? KAINE: We have never withheld funding for border security John, and we’re not going to. There are two bipartisan-passed on the table right now that the president can embrace.
One is that we do the budget for the rest of the year with between $1 billion and $1.6 billion in border security funding. Just order of magnitude, last year we did a bipartisan deal with $1.3 billion and the president was not even able to spend all that money while he was complaining about immigration. That deal is on the table -- it’s bipartisan.
And the second deal that’s on the table is if the president doesn’t want that, we will do a continuing resolution which means, as you know, let’s just keep spending for the next two months, say, what we’ve spent for the last few months while we work out a final deal.
Those are both bipartisan proposals, they’re both on the table. The president should accept one or the other but he seems, for some reason, to be fixated upon the shutdown idea.
BERMAN: But you’re not going to accept five, correct?
KAINE: We -- this is a -- this is a -- he couldn’t spend $1.3 billion last year. He could not spend $1.3 billion as he was going around making up things about people and demonizing immigrants and saying we needed more. He wouldn’t even spend the money that we gave him last year.
So the number that is being agreed upon in a bipartisan way appears between $1 billion and $1.6 billion for the next year. He can have that or he can have two months of funding while we work out a final deal.
BERMAN: So you saw, presumably, what happened in the Oval Office yesterday.
BERMAN: Given what we all saw, what do you think divided government will look like for the next two years?
KAINE: Well look, I think what you saw was the president being fact- checked to his face by strong Democratic leaders, which Republican leaders haven’t been willing to do.
When he’s making up lies about this or that, he had Nancy Pelosi look him in the eye and say first, you said this was going to be a private meeting. Why don’t we talk privately and settle this? But the president decided he was going to play a trick on them and make it public, so they fact-checked him to his face.
So I think what government’s going to look like going forward is the president’s not going to have enablers in Congress who are just going to go along with whatever the tweet du jour is. They’re going to have people who are going to demand that he act like an adult because we’re sure going to do our job as the Article One branch to try to govern whether or not he is acting responsibly or not.
BERMAN: So, Senator, you’re a lawyer. I want to shift gears if I can to the charges Michael Cohen is pleading guilty to.
BERMAN: Among others, it was involved in any legal campaign finance -- you know, payment -- which he says and the government says was directed and coordinated with the President of the United States.
If you were a prosecutor and President Trump was not president, would you bring charges against him for this?
KAINE: Well, you know what? I haven’t read all the details of the charges. I mean, I’ve read the news accounts of it.
But certainly, John, you have a very troubling situation. You now have a guilty conviction of the president’s campaign manager. You have a guilty plea by the president’s National Security adviser, Michael Flynn. And now, you have a plea and a sentencing by the president’s personal lawyer.
This is not like minor league plumbers that broke into the Watergate Hotel in 19 -- in the -- in 1972. These are people in the inner circle of this administration and that’s clearly why the president is so panicked right now.
BERMAN: So you are the Foreign Relations Committee and Saudi Arabia and Jamal Khashoggi -- these are issues you care deeply about.
BERMAN: I want to read to you something that President Trump said in this interview with Reuters overnight. He got lost in some of the talk about impeachment.
He was asked whether the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in murder, and he was asked whether standing by Saudi Arabia means standing by the crown prince.
[07:55:08] And this is what he said. He said, “Well, at this moment, it certainly does. He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia. They’ve been a very good ally.”
Do you believe Saudi Arabia has been a very good ally, and do you believe standing by Saudi means standing by the crown prince?
KAINE: Well look, they get to pick who their leader is. We cannot stand by the Saudi’s abhorrent behavior under this leader -- we cannot.
Jamal Khashoggi was a Virginia resident. His kids are U.S. citizens who live in Virginia. He was a journalist who was targeted and assassinated in a state-sponsored crime because he was a journalist.
There’s no way that the U.S. should stand by that kind of behavior. And that’s why we’re going to have a vote John, as you know, within the next few days to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen. We have a separate track going to sanction the leaders of Saudi Arabia who were complicit in this gruesome crime.
And, the president’s unwillingness to call it out, I think is a real betrayal of the role that America should be playing in the world as a -- as a champion for human rights, and especially for press freedom.
BERMAN: Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. Thanks so much for being with us this morning. If we don’t see you again have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday.
KAINE: Absolutely. John, thanks so much, man.
BERMAN: Thanks, Senator.
We’ll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BERMAN: All right. Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY.
We begin with major breaking news for America’s closest ally. British Prime Minister Theresa May -- she is fighting to keep her job. Her Conservative Party has triggered a no-confidence vote which could force her from power.
CAMEROTA: So, all of this political chaos is fueled by Theresa May’s handling of Britain’s planned exit from the European Union. The prime minister was facing some very tough questions from lawmakers just an hour ago. This was in the House of Commons. It was very raucous. It lasted about an hour.
So let’s get right to CNN’s international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson who is live at 10 Downing Street in London with all the breaking details. What now, Nic?
(Byline: Alisyn Camerota, John Berman, Jeffrey Toobin)
(Guest: Jeff Mason, Susan Bro, Tim Kaine)
(High: Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is expected to be the first member of Trump’s inner circle to receive a significant prison term in connection with special counsel Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election when he is sentenced in federal court. While Trump has tried to distance himself from Cohen -- accusing him of lying to federal agents to try to earn a lighter sentence -- prosecutors have tied the president even closer to Cohen’s crimes, disclosing that he had directed Cohen to pay hush money to the two women at the heart of the campaign-finance charges. A jury in Charlottesville, Virginia recommended life in prison for the man who plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally last year killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more. Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, discusses the verdict. President Trump has threatened to shut down the government over his demand for billions of dollars for his border wall. Trump wants $5 billion to fund construction of a border wall, but Pelosi and Schumer, the top House and Senate Democrats, told him the votes aren’t there to secure that level of funding. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine weighs in. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to fight for her political life today after members of her own party triggered a vote of no- confidence in her leadership over her handling of Brexit. If she loses the vote, which will take place today, she will be out as Conservative leader and will likely outline when she will stand down as U.K. Prime Minister.)
(Spec: Politics; Donald Trump; Michael Cohen; Sentencing; Paul Manafort; Chief of Staff; Nick Ayers; Rick Santorum; Jeff Mason; Interview; Russia; China; Trade; Department of Justice; Intervention; Huawei; Meng Wanzhou; Arrest; Democrats; House of Representatives; Reelection; Nancy Pelosi; Chuck Schumer; Government Shutdown; Roberta Rampton; Charlottesville, Virginia; White Nationalist Rally; James Alex Fields; Murder; Heather Heyer; Susan Bro; Hate; Victim’s Impact Statement; Civil Rights Movement; Government Shutdown; Border Wall; Funding; Border Security; Tim Kaine; Divided Government; Nancy Pelosi; Paul Manafort; Michael Flynn; Saudi Arabia; Jamal Khashoggi; Mohammed bin Salman; Yemen; War; Support; Sanctions; Britain; Theresa May; Parliament; House of Commons; No-Confidence Vote; Brexit; European Union)