CNN host Jake Tapper expressed skepticism that Michael Cohen’s Thursday guilty plea necessarily amounted to “any evidence” of a conspiracy between the Trump team and the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.
After introducing New York Rep. Jerry Nadler as “the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee” who is “expected” to become its chairman, Tapper immediately questioned the congressman about actual “evidence of conspiracy” resulting from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s plea deal.
“Look, this is clearly not welcome news for the president,” said Tapper. “I don’t want to pretend that it is but once again I look at these documents and I don’t see any evidence of conspiracy between members of the Trump team and the Russian government to interfere in the election.”
After Nadler called the potential Moscow project a “corrupt business deal,” Tapper pressed: “You call it a corrupt business deal?” (RELATED: ‘Asleep At The Switch’ — CNN’s Tapper Lights Up Obama Administration On Russian Hacking)
“The fact that it was negotiated with a foreign power while you’re running for president … ” Nadler said.
“Not illegal, you mean like more just colloquially corrupt?” Tapper pressed.
“Yeah,” said Nadler.
“But still no conspiracy?” said Tapper.
“Well, wait a minute,” Nadler fired back. “It certainly tends to indicate — it’s one more piece of evidence — so now we know or Cohen testifies to the fact that Trump during the campaign at the same time that he is dictating a change in the Republican platform to favor the Russians, at the same time that he can find nothing negative to say about Putin or about what they are doing is, in fact, negotiating with the Russian government for personal business profits. He is mixing his personal business profits and perhaps putting them over the interests of the United States and lying to the electorate about it.”
“Sure, it stinks, but it’s not a conspiracy is all I’m saying,” said Tapper.
When Nadler responded that it could be, Tapper said there’s “no evidence” that it would have been a conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election.
The two went back and forth on whether or not having private business dealings with the Russians amounts to a criminal conspiracy, with Nadler concluding that it would “certainly” be illegal “if he’s done anything as president based on his business relationships with the Russians.”