Forget Paul Manafort. Michael Cohen, who was Donald Trump’s fixer for over a decade, knows far more than Manafort ever could and he appears to be on the warpath against his former boss. He said he would ‘take a bullet’ for Trump in the past. Now he is targeting him for destruction.
His guilty plea today in a Manhattan courtroom to lying to Congress represents a more direct threat to Trump. Cohen apparently lied to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about the Russia investigation in August 2017. He had previously claimed that his work on behalf of a Trump-branded hotel in Moscow ended in January 2016. Now he says it did not. He also lied about what the Mueller investigative team calls ‘contemplated travel’ to Russia and had discussions with ‘family members of Individual 1 within the Company.’ Cohen is said to have briefed Trump himself three times on the project even as Trump was claiming that he was Simon-pure when it came to investments in Russia. Today, Trump said, ‘I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities?’
The filing, which you can read here, states that Cohen made numerous false representations about his activities and notes that he was negotiating with Kremlin officials. Federal prosecutors said that Cohen’s intent was to ‘minimize links between the Moscow Project and (Trump) and give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before the Iowa caucus and the very first primary in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.’ Were those statements made at Trump’s behest? Was Trump offering sanctions relief to Moscow in return for favorable treatment of his business enterprises? Was he in bed with the Reds?
Trump, who is heading to Argentina for the Group of 20 meeting, is trying to look tough on Russia. He tweeted that he is canceling his meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin: ‘Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting….’ Soon Putin may decide that the rumbustious Trump is more trouble than he is worth.
At the same time, Trump also wasted no time in attacking Cohen today. He’s a ‘weak person’ who is ‘lying about a project that everybody knew about’ in order to obtain a reduced sentence. But as ABC News reports, ‘Since entering his guilty pleas in Manhattan, Cohen has been talking with multiple agencies investigating the president, sources said. He is doing so voluntarily, without the protection of a formal cooperation agreement or the specific promise of a reduced sentence.’
Trump is clearly on edge. This morning Trump tweeted, ‘When will this illegal Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt, one that has shattered so many innocent lives, ever end-or will it just go on forever? After wasting more than $40,000,000 (is that possible?), it has proven only one thing-there was NO Collusion with Russia. So Ridiculous!’ But Mueller may have trapped Trump. If Trump responded to Mueller in writing that he was not aware of the machinations surrounding building a property in Moscow, then he is in what George H.W. Bush liked to call deep doo-doo.
Another line of attack will come from Rep. Adam Schiff, who plans to summon Roger Stone and other Trump associates for testimony. Then there is the raid on the Frankfurt headquarters of Deutsche Bank, which was the only bank willing to lend to Trump in the past decade — a cool $360 million. Now German investigators are probing an alleged $350 million in money laundering by the bank. Perhaps Trump’s towering ambitions are about to bring down not only his presidency, but also his murky business empire.