Transcript: Lanny Davis on "Face the Nation," December 16, 2018

Cohen wouldn't take Trump pardon, Lanny Davis says

The following is a transcript of the interview with Lanny Davis, an adviser to Michael Cohen, that aired Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to "Face the Nation." Last week President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison. Joining us now is his former attorney Lanny Davis who now because of the sentencing is no longer serving as attorney but as a friend as a spokesperson and counselor. The president tweeted this morning about your former client, "Remember Michael Cohen only became a rat after the FBI did something that was absolutely unthinkable and unheard of and they broke into an attorney's office." What is your response to that?

FORMER ATTORNEY TO MICHAEL COHEN LANNY DAVIS: This is the top law enforcement officer in our system of government calling somebody who decides to tell the government the truth, "A rat." That's the language of a mobster not of the president. But Michael Cohen took ownership and personal responsibility for lying and he's going to jail as a consequence and he authorized me, several times, to say he wouldn't take a pardon from Donald Trump if it was handed to him. So he now-

MARGARET BRENNAN: Was one ever discussed?

DAVIS: Never. But he announced ahead of time, wouldn't take it even if it was handed to him. And let's remember that Michael Cohen has corroborating evidence for everything that he has said. Mr. Mueller certainly does on the issue of the purpose of the money paid to Stormy Daniels the same man who called Michael Cohen a rat denied on Air Force One to the American people that he knew anything about Stormy Daniels and Mr. Giuliani, who this morning was on television accusing Michael Cohen of lying, the very next day waived attorney client privilege and said no his client did pay Stormy Daniels. So Michael Cohen is now taking ownership in his statement to the court of his personal responsibility for his behavior when he worked for Donald Trump. Now that he saw Donald Trump as president he underwent a genuine transformation because he feared for his country and his family When Donald Trump was president.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And just quickly to clarify, the president says the FBI broke into his office, I believe Michael Cohen said that it was a okay transaction with the FBI something he consented to.

DAVIS: He not only consented to, he thanked them for their courtesy as they left. And you have a president denouncing the FBI, lying about a warrant in a legal search, and he's the top law enforcement officer of the country and who does he praise? He praises his people who have lied and refused to cooperate. The opposite of what a president should do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said that Michael Cohen has evidence to back up his allegations here.

DAVIS: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In the sentencing memo that the special counsel wrote that he provided useful information concerning Russia related matters core to its investigation. Does that mean- are you saying that Cohen actually has evidence of conspiracy with Russia.

DAVIS: So the one thing I can't do, when I was his lawyer and now that I'm his adviser, is to get in front of Mr. Mueller's findings. So I can't answer your question, but I will tell you this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, what did you mean by evidence, then?

DAVIS: What did Mr. Cohen mean by evidence or Mr. Mueller mean by evidence? I can't tell you anything about what Mr. Mueller meant, let's wait. But I can tell you that when he used the words "core issues," those words are about the Russian investigation. And Mr. Mueller is careful with his words. And he also mentioned that Mr. Cohen provided information regarding the Moscow Trump Tower and that he was contacted by a senior government official and the press secretary to Vladimir Putin. So there's a lot in the Mueller memo that tells you how forthcoming, for 70 hours in seven meetings, Michael Cohen was with Mr. Mueller.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Prosecutors also said he provided information concerning contacts with persons connected to the White House during 2017 to 2018. Can you tell us who he was in contact with?

DAVIS: Again, I can't tell you. I'll wait for Mr. Mueller to tell you, but just think about it. He publishes ahead of time, which Mr. Mueller criticized him for, his testimony that was a lie about the Moscow Trump Tower. He calls the White House and the president knows from the published testimony that he's about to lie. Not one person from the White House, I can tell you this, ever said, "don't lie."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did he need to be told that?

DAVIS: Well, he- guess he did need to be tell- told that because he ended up lying and he was regretted it. And he's going to jail for it. And he said to the court in his heartfelt way, "I take ownership and I don't blame anybody but myself," and apologized for that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president's attorney Rudy Giuliani is defending his client and saying that Michael Cohen is just a liar, a serial liar. And he's pointing to the idea that there's no way he was ever loyal to President Trump since he surreptitiously recorded him.

DAVIS: So I can see--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why did he do that?

DAVIS: I can see why Mr. Giuliani mentions recordings because he flat out lied when he said that there was no mention of cash by President Trump on the tape recording that I went on CNN to play. It was Mr. Giuliani who lied about- that tape recording is evidence that the primary purpose of the payoff of the hush money to Miss Daniels was the election. It says so on the tape, Mr. Pecker from AMI corroborates it and others will corroborate it. Mr. Giuliani going on the air today ignoring the fact the FEC never ruled that what John Edwards did was appropriate, that's a lie. There was never a ruling. And we'll see what the facts, which is something alien to Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump. Let's see what the facts show.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to talk about what all of this means for the president, thank you.