Cohen May Be Shopping a Cooperation Agreement; It’s Not Clear Anyone Is Buying

In the wake of yesterday’s twin guilty verdicts, the punditocracy has asserted, based on an assumption that Michael Cohen knows everything Trump did, that his guilty plea poses a bigger problem for Trump than Paul Manafort’s guilty verdict right now.

I’m not convinced. Indeed, I have real questions about whether Cohen faces anything other than his own charges in the Russian conspiracy case.

Trump has seen everything Cohen has on him

I’ll have more in a bit about the Cohen-Trump challenge to SDNY’s use of a clean team to sort out privileged materials. It was undoubtedly the right decision on Kimba Wood’s part for the legitimacy of the Cohen prosecution. But what it did for Cohen is make him (or Trump) spend a lot of money to give Trump a view of every piece of dirt he had on him.

The people who believe Cohen is a bigger threat to Trump than Manafort are premising that on four month old statements from Trump’s lawyers who have, in the interim, not only reviewed everything SDNY seized from Cohen, but also proven they underestimate the scope of Trump’s risk in the Russia investigation, and not just from Don McGahn.

Trump may have pre-empted what risk Cohen has

On TV this morning, Lanny Davis claimed that Trump’s lawyers already admitted to Mueller that he directed Cohen to pay off Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.

There is no dispute that Donald Trump committed a crime. No dispute because his own lawyers said to the Special Counsel in a letter that he directed — that’s the word they used — Michael Cohen to do these payments.

It’s unclear what this letter is. It’s unclear why Trump’s lawyers would address it to Mueller rather than SDNY (aside from the fact that the Trump team never quite understood that under Rod Rosenstein’s supervision, Mueller referred the hush payments to SDNY, or perhaps the fact that suggesting Trump’s second conspiracy to cheat to get elected must be part of the investigation into Trump’s first conspiracy to cheat to get elected).

But if it is true that Trump’s team already admitted this to DOJ, regardless of who at DOJ, then it really undermines any value of having Cohen say so as part of a plea deal with regards to the hush payments. Trump’s a vindictive fuck, and depriving Cohen any value for turning on him would be the kind of thing he would do on “principle.”

Davis’ televised proffers don’t hold up to scrutiny

Since yesterday, Davis has publicly claimed Cohen has the goods on Trump’s charity (probably true) and the Russian hack. [Update: AP reports NYS has subpoenaed Cohen with regards to Trump’s foundation.]

In response to the latter claims, Richard Burr and Mark Warner issued a statement noting that that claim conflicts with Cohen’s past testimony.

We have obviously followed today’s reporting about Michael Cohen with great interest. He appears to be pleading guilty to very serious charges, however, we have no insight into any agreements he and his legal team have allegedly reached with prosecutors in New York.

What we can say is that we recently reengaged with Mr. Cohen and his team following press reports that suggested he had advance knowledge of the June 2016 meeting between campaign officials and Russian lawyers at Trump Tower. Mr. Cohen had testified before the Committee that he was not aware of the meeting prior to its disclosure in the press last summer. As such, the Committee inquired of Mr. Cohen’s legal team as to whether Mr. Cohen stood by his testimony. They responded that he did stand by his testimony.

We hope that today’s developments and Mr. Cohen’s plea agreement will not preclude his appearance before our Committee as needed for our ongoing investigation.

The truth is probably that Cohen had knowledge that Trump knew about some release — like the July release to Wikileaks — before it happened. But Mueller already has testimony to that effect, including from Omarosa, who as far as we know didn’t say it in an attempt to get out of criminal exposure herself.

And Cohen’s definitely not getting a cooperation agreement by working the press

Even SDNY hates when potential cooperating witnesses play the press; Michael Avenatti got in trouble for scheduling a press appearance around testimony. But that’s all the more true of Mueller. Indeed, a central part of Mueller’s argument that Papadopoulos offered no cooperation to prosecutors is that he took part in a NYT story in December.

Following the proffer sessions in August and September 2017, the government arranged to meet again with the defendant to ask further questions in late December 2017. However, upon learning that the defendant had participated in a media interview with a national publication concerning his case, the government canceled that meeting. (PSR ¶ 50). The government is aware that the defendant and his spouse have participated in several additional media interviews concerning his case.

Cohen has been all over the media since before they first proffered testimony (which as I understand it was some time ago). Having done that, there was little chance Mueller was going to buy what Cohen was offering publicly.

Mueller may intend to indict Cohen for his own role in the conspiracy

This part is speculative. But I think Mueller may be at the point where he’s preserving the maximal criminal liability of key conspirators. Already, he has limited the protection offered to cooperating witnesses aside from Rick Gates. Of particular note, Mike Flynn (whose latest sentencing continuation just got extended 24 days, to the date Manafort’s next trial starts) is only protected for the lies he told FBI and a FARA filing; he’s still exposed for his own role in the Russia conspiracy.

So it may well be that Mueller won’t give Cohen a cooperation agreement because he believes he can get to Cohen’s exposure on the Russia conspiracy (via witnesses like Felix Sater, who has been “cooperating’ for some time) with the evidence he has, and so sees no reason to limit that exposure for evidence he also already has from other witnesses.

As I disclosed last month, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

163 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    I think you are right as to your speculation at the end.

    Referring Cohen to SDNY always had a feeling to me of Mueller letting Cohen twist slowly, slowly in the wind while the rest of the Russia-focused investigation ground on. “Yes,” says Mueller, “we know that Cohen knows stuff that would be helpful to us on the Russian Front, but he’ll be more amenable to honesty after SDNY softens him up a bit over his taxis and taxes. Meanwhile, we’ve got other cooperative folks who may give us what we need.”

    That’s the thing about cooperative witnesses. The folks with the best information get the best deals, and if several people have the same information, it’s the first one who delivers it that gets the prize.

    • Tracy says:

      Sounds like Cohen ought to have come forward sooner in order to be helpful and get a good deal. Avenatti, also, has been saying that for some time.

      And thanks, Marcy, for your work! Lotsa questions on the last thread re: this topic.

  2. LowdenF23c says:

    Nicely done, Ms. Wheeler.  I seem to recall that, some months back, General Flynn’s son was publicly getting a bit mouthy again.  He tweeted something about “you’re all going down…”  That couldn’t have been received favorably by the SC.  Did we have any indications of a backlash from the SC?

  3. LowdenF23c says:

    Ha! That’s one’s a coin flip. There is no established method to measure or compare such undiluted feculence of that magnitude.

    • William Bennett says:

      (… and can I just say, the Lowden F32c is a beautiful instrument, and I hope you enjoy yours as much as I love mine)

      • LowdenF23c says:

        (My nom de plume has been de-coded!  Nice to meet another Friend-of-George.  It *is* a great instrument.  Put a capo on, say the 2 fret or higher and you’d almost swear it was a piano.  Happy playing to you, William)

  4. Spinning Top says:

    How does the fact that Cohen was an employee of the Trump Organization at the time of the payments play into this? Title was Executive Vice President and Special Counsel. And that his subsequent false bills for payment (in 2017 after he’d officially left the organization) were paid by the Trump Organization?

    I’m assuming that the documents and recordings seized in the raid of Cohen’s possessions hold sufficient evidence that his testimony may not be required.

  5. Pete says:

    With the crush of info yesterday it is hard to recall details, but I seem to recall that for the Storm Daniels payoff that Cohen got reimbursed and then some for it.

    Was that from The Trump Organization?

    If so, does TTO and/or any individual (other than POTUS) have any legal exposure?

    • SteveB says:

      The information etc docs
      Re reimbursement of Cohen see para 35 et seq p 16on

      Cohen only set up the reimbursement scheme with Trump Org from January onwards. First invoice submitted 14 February, (by which time he was no longer part of Trump Org, query whether still was when matter set up in January as he was set up as Trumps personal attorney around the time of the Inauguration)

      • Pete says:

        Thanks – and to orionATL further down.

        I asked because it’s unclear if Trump loves himself or his money/wealth (real or imagined) more.  I dunno how much of the (family) wealth is tied up in TTO, but perhaps it puts that at some risk.  As I recall Weisselberg has been in for at least one chat with Mueller.  Perhaps he, too, is on the hook.

        • SteveB says:

          I would think so as there seems to be idiosyncratic accountancy.

          One of the feature of the Trump Foundation litigation is (I believe) the Trump Organisation “does the bookkeeping” and there are questions of intermeddling of funds.

          There is a reference in the Cohen Criminal Information to the first payment to Cohen on the reimbursement/retainer “scheme”  being authorised for payment from the Trust. If this is a reference to the Foundation then obviously its a very big deal. Even if its a reference to some other Trust fund, then there are intermeddling issues re that body whatever it is.

  6. mcc says:

    This is probably a super ignorant question, but… why *exactly* does Mueller need a cooperation agreement? He’s not Trump, he can’t just refuse to testify. I seem to remember Susan McDougal spending 18 months in jail for refusing to testify under similar circumstances. Cohen can take the fifth but I thought certain things like pleading guilty, or being pardoned, waive fifth amendment rights regarding that crime. He can get on the stand and lie but Mueller might have enough evidence of the relevant acts to make lying a perjury trap (lol). What am I missing here?

  7. bmaz says:

    There seem to be a lot of folks, here, people in the White House and pundits on TV opining that Cohen has no real value to Mueller at this point because there are other witnesses and all those documents.


    Cohen could be of immense value. First off, he can corroborate what those other witnesses may say on a great many issues. Corroboration is always critical. Secondly, as to all those documents, Cohen can substantiate them and their authenticity, and is hands down the best witness to get them into evidence. That is extremely valuable. Lastly, the statements of a co-conspirator are admissible under Rule 801 and extremely valuable to a prosecutor.

    And, yes, plying the press is frowned upon. But it may not be quite as much here if it helps boost Cohen’s reputation in the public eye. Can’t say I would be doing that, but there is no way Lanny Davis is freewheeling on this, it is agreed to and controlled by Guy Petrillo, who is an extremely experienced, competent and thorough criminal defense lawyer (not to mention formerly a chief of criminal division in SDNY US Attorney’s office) and knows SDNY and Mueller quite well. They have a plan here; whether it turns out to be a good one or not is yet to be seen, but it is not some freewheeling shit like Rudy Giuliani engages in, it is a designed strategy.

    • Peterr says:

      The other thing that a corroborating witness can do that you did not mention is to help explain what exactly the government has when they look at all the documents, phone logs, etc. Putting emails in context, decoding the euphemisms, and explaining who all the characters in the story are can move a lot more quickly if Cohen is sitting at the table alongside Mueller’s investigators. That is, corroborating witness can be very helpful in pointing the prosecution to other witnesses — including witnesses who may be more helpful on the witness stand than Cohen.

      As for Lanny Davis, I agree with what you said. But to be completely fair, it needs to be said that when you are declaring that Lanny is out-lawyering Rudy, this is not exactly high praise.

      • Tracy says:

        Thanks for these comments, bmaz and Peterr!

        I like the re-emergence of “hogwash” – the term for our time!

        Bmaz, thanks for putting into context Petrillo’s stature in the SDNY. Sounds like he’d not run a shoddy game, nor let Lanny do so.

        I always had thought along the lines of Emily Jane Fox’s comment last night: wouldn’t you want to talk to a guy who was in and out of Trump Tower and Trump’s right-hand man for years and during the transition? I’d think yes.

        This could co-exist with the SC already having what they need already (adding context, corroboration, more info), and SC being annoyed w/ Lanny’s going to the press. Surely Cohen could have made out better by going to the SC right away and not talking to the press – but his team must have a strategy (including whitewashing the client’s image at this stage, as others have noted).

        The press does a disservice in assuming that Cohen has ALL the goods, though; it was the top story on every MSNBC evening program last night, before Manafort’s convictions. They miss asking the question: Why does Trump appear to be sympathetic (i.e. pardon-dangling) to Manafort and NOT to Cohen, if he is the key to everything? Why would Trump stick his neck out for Manafort, not Cohen? They always miss the import of the TT conspiracy.

        The press make it harder to see what’s important by always jumping to the most obvious, shiny object. However, Michael Beschloss (presidential historian) made an interesting comparison b/t yesterday’s guilty pleas/ convictions and March 1, 1974, when 7 of Nixon’s aides/ advisors were indicted by a grand jury, naming Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator – that at least places Manafort more his rightful context.

    • orionATL says:

      guy petrillo. who is this lawyer and how is he related to davis and cohen? thanks.

      as for this immediate put down of cohen’s knowledge and value, it sems rather odd and rather premature.

      as i read this am, the guy did plead guilty to a particular campaign finance violation with criminal-cost consequences for his payments to the ladies of the night (or lunch or tea). he said trump directed him. this disosure doesn’t sah to trump “go directly to jail” but it sure seems a direct-line connection to trump on a criminal count. speculation on that consequence seems well warranted.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      And yet as we saw in EDVA, perhaps the most effective way to defend a crook who doesn’t have to testify is to go guns-blazing at the deputy crook on the witness stand.

      Admittedly it’s a bit different here: King Idiot has decided in reality-show fashion that The Pardon is only available to one person, and Paulie’s way ahead of the crowd.

      • bmaz says:

        Heh, that didn’t really work in EDVA, and DC will be even less hospitable for Manafort. If Trump pardons Manafort before his last day in office, it will be viewed as part and parcel of obstruction.

        • jayedcoins says:

          It sure is funny how many people — and not just nutsos like the Federalist — are spinning this as something akin to a 10-8 victory for Manafort. Apologies for stealing this from a clever tweet I saw, that I now cannot find… but the reality is more like Manafort and team just went 0-8-10, with the 10 draws going to penalty kicks.

          (Also, thanks for decoding some of the legal stuff above, it is tremendous help when you hop in the comments and do that.)

    • SteveB says:

      Further to your point of the testimonial value of Cohen.

      EW argues above

      “But if it is true that Trump’s team already admitted this to DOJ, regardless of who at DOJ, then it really undermines any value of having Cohen say so as part of a plea deal with regards to the hush payments. Trump’s a vindictive fuck, and depriving Cohen any value for turning on him would be the kind of thing he would do on “principle.”

      With due respect to EW, might not the reverse position be true? IE Precisely because Trump had made this admission in a letter there was value in having Cohen confirm on oath that it was the instigation of criminal conduct.

      We have not seen the letter nor how this admission was contextualized within it or in the stream of correspondence of which it was part but I have little doubt that it was formulated as part of or inconsequence of the half assed scramble to overcome the campaign contibution issue. Team Trump and Trump himself have been all over the shop about what he knew or didn’t about the payments etc.

      Nailing Trump to a crime, using his own admission to skewer him seems to demonstrate some value in Cohen’s evidence.

      Whether this was agreed to by the prosecution in advance is unknown, but given the existence of the letter there was even more calculation in this strike and it is even more wounding than first appeared.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Do we know that all of Cohen’s records were obtained in the raid? It seems plausible to me that there could be more, anything from a cloud account, a storage locker, or a ziplock filled with thumb drives stashed in his aunt’s attic.

      I would bet if that is the case, it’s not Mueller-related, but I just can’t be sure a guy who distrusts Trump enough to make recordings doesn’t also squirrel away things of value in the event of a raid.

  8. Avattoir says:

    Even on Broidy?

    It’s possible Broidy will crumble independently. And it’s even conceivable that part of the awkward part-public part-showme part-private Mickey Medallions proffer involves at least useful (to the interview of Broidy) info being provided to Mueller’s People on Mickey’s knowledge on that, such as it is.

    So, yeah: I can see fearless leader’s point – that the OSC isn’t anxious to waste time and risk anxiety over someone from whom Mueller’s People already figure they have anything that might be useful.

    And that certainly would be consistent with Lanny Davis’ uncharacteristically humble petitioning we’ve all seen over the last day – i.e. they’ve already arrive at begging for mercy as a strategy.

    • bmaz says:

      Avattoir, not sure if that was to me, but if so yes. I find the thought that Cohen is not useful to be patently absurd. Now there may be a question as to the “weight”, if you will, of his usefulness, he can be extremely useful nevertheless in many ways. And, yeah, Broidy, if Paul Campos and Avenatti are correct, could be explosive, at least publicly if not legally. You a prosecutor that wants to blow Trump up? That will go a long way and soften him up as a target.

  9. RWood says:

    IANAL, but it’s not hard to see the wisdom of maintaining as much leverage as possible over Cohen. But isn’t there a limit to that leverage as well? He’s 51, so he has quite a bit of time left on this earth. At what point does the threat of 30 years and 300 years mean the same thing to him?

    Either way, Cohen needs to possess damning information that nobody else has if he wants a deal from Mueller, and I’m not sure he has that.

    Perhaps Mueller feels he has everything he needs, is done offering deals, and just looking to maximize the amount of justice he can deliver?

      • Peacerme says:

        I think it’s possible that Mueller may be just dangling him so Cohen has no idea. (Like a koan, it keeps he and his legal team guessing. You can guess a strategy but it does not feel the same as “knowing” with certainty what the strategy is.  Of course his testimony, any testimony regarding the kingpin would be valuable. I think Mueller may not want Cohen to know that. Right now Cohen has pretty much zero power. All he can do is be good and prostrate himself. Pick me!! Pick me!! I think if I were Mueller, that’s how I would want it. Like ignoring a lover after the best sex ever. To maintain leverage. If Cohen (et al) gives the impression that he “needs” Cohen, there more chance of games. Drip, drip, drip. If you are falling off a ledge, you don’t play games. When I need info about a clients secret behaviors-I act like I don’t care. I am only guessing here. Point is, I see Bmaz’s point and I get why people might get the impression that Mueller isn’t interested. Working the dialectic, this is a theory that might make both impressions make sense. But it could be hogwash!!

        • RWood says:

          I see now that Cohen is valuable in relation to corroboration/admission of evidence and not just for what he knows. But is that enough to get him anything in return?

          Can Mueller compel him to give that testimony without having to give Mickey a deal in return? If the answer is yes, then Cohen has no leverage. So I have to agree with others that he, Petrillo, and Mueller have a deal/plan, one that they have worked out together and are executing very well.

          Drump’s plan seems to be made up on the fly. We’ll see who wins.

  10. Trip says:

    On Michael Cohen’s tape, there is mention “of our friend David”, which of course refers to Pecker. Cohen worried that Pecker could leave, and so the Stormy Daniels NDA was made directly, albeit under assumed names. But based on that interaction, was a third party, namely Pecker, paid money to then pay off other women (to create another degree of separation) to catch and kill?

    And don’t forget, Pecker provided ongoing free promotional pieces for Trump and his campaign, while also going heavy on the negative about Clinton getting ready to keel over any minute. Cohen would know about these arrangements. Pecker, after Trump’s win, then landed the huge Saudi glossy, which was so oddly out of place on newsstands in locations like Walmart. Quid pro quo, also giving the Saudis positive publicity in the US?

    Cohen would’ve still been in Trump’s direct orbit when Pecker visited the White House.

      • Trip says:

        True. But if we are going with probabilities, I’d bet on Pecker. And Pecker is running scared (of Mueller) since he put the playmate McDougal on the cover of a recent men’s journal magazine: Complete with old photos and an old work out routine, ostensibly to cover for the kill payment.

      • orionATL says:

        for anyone interested in the sordid details laid out unsparingly in time sequence, go upstairs to steve b. ‘s comment at 8-22 12:47pm and tap on the “lawfare” citation he so helpfully provides.

        skip thru the first document which is the agreement between the doj public corruption team and guy patrillo and michael cohen.

        now go down to para 24 in the next (typewritten legal style) document under the heading “campaign finance violations” and start your reading. the whole story is laid out there – woman-1, attorney-2, man-1, organization-7, who did what to or for whom when.

        identities can either be guessed at from memory or cross-checked with published media stories, which prominently includes posts from the emptywheel truth-in-public-information media outlet.

        • Trip says:

          Good stuff. Definitely involved a 3rd party (Pecker) and Cohen used an email attached to the campaign. Money was not Trump’s personal cash, but from the corporation, and it exceeded limitations in order to effect the election outcome.

          • SteveB says:

            Not just the Corporation , but some of the funds came from a Trust it would appear.

            Further, see p17 $50,000 was bundled in for payment for “tech services”.

            What were they?

            • orionATL says:

              i’d hope the experts attached to the doj’s public corruption team would be helpful in untangling the path of the monenies took to and from various persons and organizations.

              at some point, for some of these monies, trump has publicly acknowledged he repayed cohen. i thought it involved the $130k to stormy night, but can’t trust my memory.

            • Trip says:

              Could be Cohen’s cut or some other pay off, who knows? Maybe an ongoing gig for Pecker and his glorious stories on Trump?

            • Amherst89 says:

              Regarding the comments above by @SteveB and others regarding “the Trust” — I’ve understood that the Trust is the DJT Revocable Trust, the not-blind trust that he put all of his businesses into.  So if the payment came from the Trust, it effectively came from TTO

    • Rusharuse says:

      Forgot the glossy. Big pitch to local “foodies”- visit Saudi Arabia, enjoy the sandwiches there.

      PS. love the smell of quality brochures

  11. orionATL says:

    ew writes:

    “… The people who believe Cohen is a bigger threat to Trump than Manafort are premising that on four month old statements from Trump’s lawyers who have, in the interim, not only reviewed everything SDNY seized from Cohen, but also proven they underestimate the scope of Trump’s risk in the Russia investigation, and not just from Don McGahn… ”

    well, its not like i have an iron grasp of these complex  matters, but to me the cohen and manafort risks are seperate, the former more pure criminal liability, the latter more political liability.

    the manafort risk for conspiracy seems a more political one, one from which trump has cleverly protected himself thru his extraordinarily  intense 18 month campaign against “fake news”, combined with the possibility he might be able to wiggle out from under any “conspiracy to defraud the u. s.” charge before a jury (as a matter of law, if clinton can be brought to deposition then so can trump). 

    the cohen problem, trump directing a campaign finance violation with criminal consequences, seems more of a straight-forward legal problem. cohen has pled guilty to violating a part of a statute with criminal consequences. he says trump directed him, which seems quite plausible  on the surface.

    given a choice, i would think patrick fitzgerald would prefer to prosecute the cleaner, simpler appearing cohen situation.

    • Rayne says:

      Why does the Cohen situation appear “cleaner, simpler” to you? IMO the Manafort case may well be much “cleaner, simpler” than the Cohen case but we the public don’t have access to all the intelligence collected to know this for certain and prosecution is more time consuming because the target is more narrowly circumscribed.

      I’ll refer to Ralph Waldo Emerson here: “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”

      • orionATL says:

        apparently simpler. the reality may prove different.

        simpler because cohen has coped a plea to a criminal part of the campaign finance statute(s), and it is a straight line from cohen to the trump organization to trump.

        with the manafort situation, for starters manafort hasn’t said “boo” nor given any indication he will. if and when he does, you have to go thru numerous people, including his oldest son, to get to trump as an agent. once there you have to convince a jury. i’m happy mueller is doing the work he is doing because i consider discovery as the gold of his effort; any conviction would be gravy. however, i am not convinced that something called “conspiracy to defraud the u. s.” is a very convincing criminal charge. it seems a bit thin and contrived to me, if for no other reason than that the u. s. gov does not exercise direct control over elections. maybe if the concern is that citizens of the u. s. were defraaded, that might be more convincing. a recent commenter did point out that fraud convictions had been achieved against don’t-pay-your-taxes groups. that sounds hopeful, but might have involved mail fraud statutes.

        right now i am betting on straight-line between the cohen criminal campaign finance guilty plea, then thru the trump org and thence to trump as easier. but not easy; the president is an individual who has been handed exceptional power.

        any criminal charge thatcsticks wounds fatally.

    • NorskieFlamethrower says:

      Really??!! Patrick Fitzgerald??!! Really??!!! I hope any memory of that guy and his buddy James Comey is long gone from Mueller’s conscientiousness.


      • orionATL says:

        oh come on. fitzgerald did a first-rate job of getting a a conviction in an extremely difficult politically-affected trial. he did so because he kept things simple for the jury. what the hell did you expect, libby’s head on a platter?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I don’t think the dichotomy between criminal and political works when talking about Cohen and Manafort.

      Both worked for Trump for a long time and know a lot about how and what he does.  Both would know a lot about possible crimes he and they may have committed.  The consequences would be political in both cases, but the crimes come first.  They are Mueller’s reason for having his current job.

      Separately, I agree with the observation that items 7 and 8 in Cohen’s plea set up an indictment of the president (whenever filed).  The DoJ is not likely to have agreed to that presentation if it did not have hard evidence supporting the claims in addition to the information provided by Cohen.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        “The DOJ is not likely to have agreed to that presentation if it did not have hard evidence supporting the claims…”

        That’s a bingo and the coverall! Mueller is not gunna get too far over his skies with these slimy dirtbags. The next 60 days are gunna be “interesting” in the Chinese use of that word.

      • orionATL says:

        wow. the third para knocked me back: “set up an indictment of the president whenever filed.”

        who else has written something that bold?

        as for political vs criminal, i don’t want to make too many assumptions in the presence of an extensive campaign (“fake news”) by trump to innoculate his supporters from regular media sources of information that would disclose his illegal activities, criminal or civil – a campaign that really revved up after trump received his mid-january 2017 briefing from u. s. intelligence to the effect that they had documentary and annecdotal ecvience of putin’s direct involvement in the election.

        in general though it seems to me that voter impressions of a politician’s conduct, certainly including illegal conduct, can erode her support, even among loyalists, when it becomes an oft repeated charge. after all, the oft repeated but thoroughly trivial and fundamentally dishonest charge that clinton was unconcerned about classified information was repeated to her detriment for a year. the charge mixed nicely with implications of personal dishonesty (not to mention witchcraft).

        i’m confident trump will be politically harmed by suspicions of illegality if that is repeatedly brought to the fore of voters’ consciousness, just as with any other negative political advertising.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Sarah Sanders were to give sworn testimony, the Bible would leap from her hand in sadness and dismay. That she has given 100 of these briefings is a dismal statistic.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Manafort case has nussink to do with Dear Leader.  Trump has just known Paulie for three decades.  Paulie was his campaign manager for four months – his work, for example, was so peripheral, it’s why Pence is Vice President.  And Paulie’s principal deputy worked for Trump for a year, giving Paulie a direct line to Trump even after he formally stopped working for him.

      But nope, nussink to see here.  Every president blasts his Department of Justice, makes biased comments to the public about criminal trials as they are under way, and says kind words to people his DoJ has recently convicted of eight felonies, who are readying themselves for another criminal trial less than a month away.

  13. Rusharuse says:

    Real men dont eat quiche. Brave men don’t pay tax

    “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!”

    • koolmoe says:

      Yes, that’s yet another thing that gnaws at me. Of course, Trump is the ultimate target and he knows he’s committed crimes, but still…to say ‘this poor guy who only committed fraud…such a good guy, doesn’t deserve it’ and ‘this slimball who owned up to his illegal activities and taking his punishment is a terrible person’…

      UGH. Regardless of his culpability or any such right/wrong, such statements simple show his corrupt soul. What terrible messages to send out (i.e. ‘don’t snitch regardless of the crime’, ‘cover up, cover up! as loyalty demands’…)…really shows how morally bankrupt our president is.

  14. Chetnolian says:

    OrionATL has a point. The Cohen plea is of guilt is to a campaign cost violation. If it is argued that “everybody does that” as Trump is already doing then there is to this outsider a grain of truth. But Manafort is closer to something which, mindful of the trouble John Brennan got in, I shall call unpatriotic. Surely that carries much greater political risks especially with Republicans who learned to distrust Russia with their mother’s milk?

      • Frank Probst says:

        If the state is hitting him with a subpoena one day after the feds nailed him, does that suggest that the feds are done with him?  It seems like the general rule is to let the feds finish with someone before the state goes after them.

        • Trip says:

          Dunno. But @SteveB mentioned something about monies going to Cohen from a trust. I suppose the State AG and Feds could collaborate?

          • Trip says:

            Apparently, the trust is the corporation which Trump separated himself from (hahaha!), and handed over to JR and the other one.
            Maddow had a recent rundown on this.

        • SteveB says:

          Are they going after him? I thought the AG is doing a civil charities compliance investigation/action. Perhaps they just want him as a witness, even if they do not call him to testify he may well be able to provide info/leads from which they could develope usable evidence.

          • Trip says:

            While the tax department is leading the probe, a source said other state agencies could get involved.Gov. Cuomo earlier Wednesday noted that Cohen’s lawyer “went out of his way to say Cohen would be forthcoming on both federal and state investigations”. State Attorney General Barbara Underwood recently filed a civil lawsuit accusing the commander-in-chief and his three oldest children of operating a bogus namesake charity “in persistent violation” of federal and state laws for more than a decade. In addition, the state Tax Department opened an investigation into whether Trump and his charitable foundation violated state law by transferring assets or making certain misrepresentations to the state with respect to tax liability and tax assignment…


            • orionATL says:

              uh oh. the good ship trumpinc may be sailing into hurricane force winds.

              republican congressional candidates have got to be getting worrieder and worrieder.

              • Bob Conyers says:

                I expect the networks in Albany are screaming at Cuomo right now.

                The Trump foundation can’t be the only tax dodge piggy bank, and I’m sure part of the bargain that’s kept Cuomo in office is that he doesn’t let tax bureaucrats out of their cages.

                • Trip says:

                  True. But Cuomo being Cuomo, doesn’t mind a bit of political retribution. Plus, it’s election season and some of his close chums were guilty of corruption.

            • Brumel says:

              Two signs that Underwood’s civil lawsuit may soon trigger a criminal prosecution: First, Underwood has already declared she “will seek a criminal referral from the appropriate state agency as necessary.” Why mention that if nothing’s cooking? Second, she served the subpoena explicitly “in light of the public disclosures made yesterday”, i. e. the felony disclosures in the Cohen guilty plea.

              So Cohen does seem to have found a buyer, just not the one he’s bargained for. Underwood thinks he can be very useful in building that criminal case, while Mueller probably thinks he has too little to gain from Cohen in the Russia probe.

              A State criminal prosecution of Donald, Junior, Eric and Ivanka, with no DOJ policies against indictment and no pardons? Bring it on…

  15. Dan Dullea says:

    Is Manafort going to flip?  Is he afraid of prison or counting on a pardon?    3rd not discussed & unspoken possibility: perhaps he is more afraid of Putin’s reach.

    And aren’t Butina & Manafort to be in the same prison awaiting trial?  The real world seems like  the set up for a new Steven Seagal movie… He breaks them out of prison, stops at the Whitehouse for Trump  and spirits them all off to a party with Putin.

  16. Frank Probst says:

    From one of Trump’s tweets this morning:  “Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!”

    Um, he’s coming perilously close to saying that the payments were definitely campaign-related.  John Edwards was able to dodge a conviction for similar payments by claiming that they weren’t campaign-related, but rather because he didn’t want his wife to find out he was cheating on her.  Trump appears to be close to destroying his ability to use this defense.

    • Trip says:

      Rudy mentioned on the teevee that the payoff was because of the election.

      Trump: 1.It never happened, 2. I didn’t know about it, 2. I did know about it, 3.but it wasn’t a crime.

      Importantly, he admits it happened and that Cohen is credible as a witness, not “flipping with lies”.

  17. Frank Probst says:

    Question for @bmaz and the other lawyers:

    Michael Cohen has pleaded [sorry] guilty to a number of felonies that are non-trivial, but they’re not earth-shattering, either.  Looking back, is this a big enough deal for a judge to sign off on multiple search warrants to simultaneously hit the President’s former lawyer at every place he might have evidence of a crime?  As a non-lawyer, I’m not seeing it.  It seems like there had to be something MUCH bigger that they could bring to a judge to ask for multiple search warrants.  No?

  18. Trip says:

    I’m listening to Lanny on MTP, (yeah I know), and it occurred to me that Cohen makes a better witness for both the feds and state as a guy coming clean without promises. That element kind of tainted Gates.

    • Tracy says:

      Yes, I think that I heard this logic on NPR Politics or something like that, too (can’t remember exactly where, it’s all running together now!).

      Incidentally, it also probably stole some thunder, a talking point, from the State Media.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sen. Warner disagrees with his colleagues from Hawaii, California, Connecticut and elsewhere, who are refusing to see Brett Kavanaugh, on the basis that his nomination by an unindicted co-conspirator and criminally implicated president is fatally flawed.

    Warner, on the other hand, thinks he’s scoring points against the GOP by doing what they refused to do for Merrick Garland – sit down for a mannerly chat with him about his judicial qualifications. Warner is playing the fool.

    He should also know better than to adopt a journalist’s framing, let alone Chuck Todd’s. Media relations 101 calls for a politician to answer questions by putting them into her own frame, not an opponent’s or a journalist’s.

    That relates to Todd’s framing about whether the Democrats are trying to “slow down” the advice and consent process for purely tactical reasons. The answer, Sen. Warner, is a resounding, No.

    Democrats are attempting to match the pace of their review with the release of critical information about Kavanaugh, which the Trump regime is failing to release. They are attempting to review Kavanaugh’s extensive, controversial record before calling him for hearings, so that they, um, know the most critical questions to ask him – and to consider when voting on his nomination.

    Sen. Grassley, on the other hand, is trying to railroad the process and get Kavanaugh approved on a party line vote before the November election. He wants him approved. Period. He doesn’t give a shit what Kavanaugh’s record is, still less whether naively polite colleagues like Warner get to see it. If Warner continues to pretend to be above the fray, he’s likely to find that his not-so-polite GOP colleagues bury him in it.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Kavanaugh must be derailed. Period. Full Stop.

      There is no ‘slow down’. It is up to us, the 5th Estate, to dig up the rocks and derail the train.

    • orionATL says:

      sen. warner gets knocked here frequently. i think that is unfair. it is unfair because warner has a reputation from his time as the governor of virginia of having worked as well as a political leader can with a truculent republican legislative oposition. he was successful with that approach in virginia and he has been successful in the senate, notably as minority leader of the senate intelligence commitee probe of russian. in fact, i would guess warner’s treatment of kavanaugh is a deliberate extension of his work on that committee which he considers very important. rudeness on his part toward kavanaugh would accomplish nothing and be a leverage point for his partisan enemies. as for the other dem senators, if they feel that is a good strategy, then i say, fine. go ahead. the problem with doing so is that you can’t ask k. pointed questions about presidential power or abortion and talk about his non-responses when it comes time to impeach kavanaugh in the house and then maybe remove him with a senate vote. :)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Civility, more civility, and always civility! An overrated call to passivity.

        It hasn’t the same ring as de l’audace, encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace!

        Nor do I think the former accomplishes half as much as the latter.

        • Valley girl says:

          hmm… where does that ringing quote come from?  J’attends votre réponse, svp. C’est génial.

        • orionATL says:

          well said. but the revolution is voracious and eats its own :)

          put differently –
          this is radio armenia. our listeners are asking: What is the difference between capitalism and socialism?
          we say: In a capitalist society man exploits man, and in a socialist society it’s the other way round.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      The scribbles on the 3rd note (the first yesterday 2018-08-21) are interesting. Just a crappy pen? And lots of pause to discuss?

      Was it really ‘one’ single count? Or does it say ‘any”?

      It looks like that there was some heavy discussion at that point, and it changed from ‘A’ (one) to ‘Any’.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          Thank you for linking to that juror’s quotes. There are a few more details available from her Fox News interview, which I shall not link, nor did I read them on that site-that-shall-not-be-clicked. I find it fascinating.  I had come here to post them and hope for feedback on what people think.  I can’t decide whether to be heartened or terrified. The good news is that some Trump supporters can be convinced by facts, can apply reasoning skills.  The bad news is that such people can still be planning to vote for Trump in 2020.  The bad news is that the juror was apparently swayed by Caesar Ellis’ jury tampering, considering the prosecution to be going after Manafort only to get Trump (okay, true enough) while expressing a generally low opinion of the prosecution team.  The good news is that she did not let these opinions prevent her from carrying out her duties with integrity. The good news is that even the intransigent juror felt unable to deny guilt in 8 cases (I think we dodged a bullet there).  The bad news is that one juror was dumb enough or stubborn enough or ideological enough not to accept the evidence on the other counts.  The good news is that the paper trail was so strong.  The bad news is that apparently Gates’ testimony was ignored lock, stock, and barrel.  We were this close to seeing a clean sweep for the prosecution.  I fear we were also this close to seeing a total mistrial.

          The worst news of all is that, I’m assuming, this juror finds Fox News to be believable.  To me, the quotes from this juror reflect just how fragile is our current situation.

  20. orionATL says:

    sort of O. T. (but no much)

    much has been said about whether carter page or george popodoupolis was a russian agent. for some reason, though, the same has not been speculated about paul manafort, nor have i heard any official u. s. intelligence noise made about manafort being a russian agent. the thought of manafort-as-agent just hasn’t been a topic. however thinking of his “employee” konstantin kilimnick over the last few weeks as the trump campaign’s link to the gru (rightly or wrongly), and reading ew’s many posts noting the relationship between manafort and oleg deripaska with kilimnick usually mentioned, the notion that manafort was a russian agent managed by kilimnick and paid by deripaksa or other oligarchs doesn’t seem entirely off the wall.

    this line of thinking is encouraged, by article’s like this one:

    heretofore the story has been that manafort was an american political consultant working mostly for ukranian rich guys who had a political preferance for russia. but what if manafort was sent to the ukraine by the russian government as he was to kyrgyzstan?

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Manafort worked for a Ukrainian politician who was in Russia’s pocket, who fled to Russia after he was deposed.  Paulie’s local manager was a “former” member of the GRU.  I’m pretty sure Manafort knew his sugar daddy was ultimately in Moscow, not Kiev, and acted – and is acting – accordingly.  Mueller knows it too.  Whether Chuck Todd gets it, or anything else, is probably irrelevant.

  22. SpaceLifeForm says:
    … And that involved a defamation case filed by three Russians against Christopher Steele, author of the so-called “Steele Dossier.” Back in October of last year, three Russians, Mikhail Fridman, German Khan and Peter Aven, who are all involved with Alfa-Bank,sued Fusion GPS and its founder Glenn Simpson in federal court for defamation. That case is still waiting for a ruling on both a Motion to Dismiss and an Anti-SLAPP Motion.
    However, while all of that was going on, the same three Russians filed a very similar case in the DC Superior Court (the equivalent of a state court, rather than federal court). That case was filed in April of this year, and while the federal court is still dilly dallying around on it, the state court dismissed the case on anti-SLAPP grounds (which rendered a related Motion to Dismiss moot.).

    • bmaz says:

      Interesting that Masnick thinks the Summer Zervos suit “weak” and not worth commenting on, but spends extensive column inches on this piece of crap suit that was NEVER going to cut the mustard. Priorities I guess, even if misplaced.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        The note of interest to me was that they filed at federal level *and* the pseudo state level.

        • bmaz says:

          What? Can you explain? I actually might be interested in this, because there are some incongruities. But would need further explanation.

  23. Avattoir says:

    Anyone here good with Craig’s List? Could check on Lanny’s ask price for Mickey Medallion’s co-op.

    • orionATL says:

      craig’s list? i want some of those medallions (at a good discount, or i ain’t buying). they’re good for hubcaps, right?

  24. Rusharuse says:

    Manny with Anderson Cooper- tired, slow, evasive, apologetic “can’t say, don’t know, haven’t discussed it!”. What gives? Is Mikey being Mikey again? What’s the 50 grand tech services reimbursement? The fat lady? Nowhere in sight!

        • Tracy says:

          On Chris Hayes’ show, Lanny was saying: it’s really awkward doing all these interviews and not being able to answer “key questions” (such as, has Cohen spoken with the OSC). Chris asked him: WHAT ARE YOU DOING? b/c lots of people have cooperated withe the OSC and we never heard about it – to which Lanny basically said that he is out doing his job, on behalf of cleaning up his client’s image.

  25. Pete says:

    Listening to way too much punditry late yesterday I think this is about a complete list of the Trump and Trump related family entities in play.

    1) Of course DJT in the role of POTUS
    2) The Trump Organization (TTO) and unidentified “employee co conspirators”
    3) The Trump Foundation (TTF) the NY based “charitable” foundation that is under NY AG and Tax scrutiny. DJT, DJT, Jr, Eric, and Ivanka are the board.
    4) The Trump Trust (TTT) which is where DJT put his business holdings run by DJT, Jr and Eric.

    It looks to me like action against the TTF by acting NY AG Barbara Underwood made its way to the NY State Tax Dept of Taxation and Finance and Cohen has been recently subpoenaed by them to chat. It also looks to me like the Gene Freidman, The Taxi King, was flipped to the Feds from work done by the NY State Dept of Taxation and Finance. A bit of deja vu wrt to TTF?

    There appears to be still at least one not totally vetted $50,000 payment from TTO to Cohen for :tech services” that smells a bit like it cold be related to the suggestion DJT one knew about hacking – or not.

    Various reporting identifies the goosed up Stormy Daniels repayments via consulting agreement to Cohen as from the TTO or TTT. I dunno which and not surprising a lot of this is follow the money.

    Perhaps Marcy or others can fill in more of which entity payed who for what including movement of money between Trump entities wrt for 2016 campaign skullduggery.

    God Bless Barbara Underwood. I hope Zephyr Teachout, if she wins NY AG in November, is every bit as aggressive.

  26. Manqueman says:

    I disagree about Cohen’s value. As they say, he knows where a lot of the bodies are buried.

    Donald’s not getting indicted, he’s not getting impeached. The best — and it’s not bad! — is that he will be proven to be a lifelong fraud, a successful rip off artist, not a successful businessman. His reputation, when this is over, will be toxic. At the end of the day, as a businessman, he’s nothing more than a brand that’s licensed. His legit property management business is a con since it’s so inept; they offer nothing that all the competition doesn’t offer as well.

    Cohen’s value on the collusion issue, meanwhile, is minimal.

  27. bmaz says:

    Cohen’s value on the collusion issue, meanwhile, is minimal.

    I don’t know how you could possibly know or say that. Cohen was intimately involved in the campaign and the Trump Organization. He could very easily know a lot about any Russian conspiracy involvement. Collusion does not exist in criminal law.

  28. Rusharuse says:

    Cohen remains faithful to wife but still fucks Trump!

    “The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office had testimony from Mr. Cohen’s accountant and business partners, along with bank records, tax filings and loan applications that implicated not only Mr. Cohen in potential criminal activity, but also his wife, who filed taxes jointly with her husband.”

    • Trip says:

      The other take on that is, in spite of being a MAGA cult member, she still couldn’t hold out on ALL charges. She found him guilty on 8 charges.

      • Frank Probst says:

        The juror who came forward (i.e., not the holdout) is also a Trump supporter and wanted to convict on all counts.

        • Trip says:

          There you go, Frank. Manafort better think long and hard about this. Trump better, as well. His supporters who convict will not like their judgement questioned and overturned.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        But it is telling you the odds that a jury of 12, even in NoVa, includes one cultist. DC and SDNY jury pools will be different, but the crazification factor is real.

        (I really don’t like jurors coming forward to talk about deliberations, especially in situations like this.)

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          Yes! Here is the discussion I had hoped to find.  This thread follows exactly my good news/bad news reaction posted above.  While it is encouraging that one can find Trump supporters who can interpret evidence and act with integrity, the over-all effect on me is to feel we are in a very fragile state.  My guess is that the hold-out broke down on some of the counts only because this jury seemed to bond to some extent so that peer pressure had an effect.  If there had been one obnoxious asshole, and particularly a self-righteous liberal know-it-all, we may have seen a more disappointing result.  All in all, sobering if somewhat heartening information from the juror reporting.

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I agree with the Don that Mickey Cohen seems like a lousy lawyer. But what does it say about Trump that he kept Mickey around for so long?

    The famously cheap Don kept him on the payroll for ten years. The Don knows nothing of generosity or loyalty to others. If he wasn’t lawyering, what was Mickey doing? The Don must know. By now, so must Bob Mueller.

    • Trip says:

      A good lawyer would never have accepted the tasks given to them by Trump. He specifically took on Mickey Medallions because he wasn’t good (as in decent, ethical and law abiding).

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        A smart, ethical lawyer – bmaz and popehat suggest the two are not inherently contradictory – would not have worked for Trump.

        Roy Cohn did, and he was brilliant.  He graduated from Columbia at 20 with both his undergraduate and law degrees.  He had to hang around for months, until he turned 21, before he could sit the NY bar.

        He was vicious, but smart and tactically gifted.  He discovered and hid mountains of dirt, which earned him mountains of favors.  Celebrities, J. Edgar Hoover, the compromised Cardinal Spellman, and stacks of politicians rewarded his discretion.

        Cohn wouldn’t have employed Mickey as a law clerk.  He might have used him as a gofer and cut-out, since he came so highly recommended from made men.

        • Trip says:

          I’d say Trump lucked out on Cohn. The qualifications for him are: loyalty and willingness to do to dirty work. And of course, that should come cheap, because working for Donald is payment in and of itself.

  30. Pete says:

    Does anyone know who, besides the NYT, stays on top of the NY AG and NY State Tax and Foundation beat? I suppose if Cohen starts chatting with them that may get some better visibility.

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump wants to make it illegal to flip. Not houses, but turning state’s evidence. The Don is not talking about the professional jail house snitch, who will say anything for a break. He’s worried about whistleblowers.

    I wonder why the president – who understands so little about the law, but a lot about dirty business – would focus on that. It all seems so much a part of his campaign to justify giving Paulie a pardon without making himself liable for obstruction.

    • Trip says:

      So he has had a change of heart on wikileaks and sanctuary cities? MS-13 gang members, and misc eyewitnesses, should keep it shut on crimes, amirite?

    • SteveB says:

      On Fox & Friends, Trump suggested that it should be illegal for people facing prosecution to cooperate with the government in exchange for a reduced sentence: “It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal…it’s not a fair thing”

      ‘It almost ought to be illegal’ – the mind of a Great Leader ponders deeply upon a matter of moment for his people, sorry His people, great people, friend of mine, good man, sad.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      ‘turning state’s evidence’

      I believe that has already happened, and the names will surprise one.

  32. Frank Probst says:

    David Fahrenthold at the WaPo. He’s basically the EW of the Trump Foundation story. He just keeps pulling on threads, and more and more keeps popping up.

    • SteveB says:

      Plus David Pecker granted immunity for his conduct : clear evidence of a conspiracy from both Cohen and Pecker and therefor evidential hurdle of proving Trump mens rea even lower.

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