It’s Michael Cohen week in Washington DC! President Trump’s former lawyer is before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, the House Oversight Committee tomorrow, and the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. He intends to do the most damage he can to his old boss, naturally, but the intelligence committees on both sides of Capitol Hill will hear his evidence – on Russia – in secret. The hearing at Oversight tomorrow, on the other hand, will be a three-ring circus with Cohen at the center. He is there to talk about ‘the President’s compliance with campaign finance laws’ – that is the $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels, supposedly for her to keep quiet during the election about her ‘affair’ with Trump. An impeccable source tells Cockburn that Cohen is burning with anger, telling anyone who’ll listen: ‘I end up going to jail because he had his pecker pulled by a porn star?’
Cohen is intent that Trump should share a full measure of the blame for whatever laws were broken in making this payment, according to some well-sourced reports in the American media. One is by Emily Jane Fox at Vanity Fair, who’s known to speak to Cohen. She writes that Cohen is planning to give ‘earth-shattering’ testimony against Trump. He has been prepped for weeks by his new lawyers, she writes, and they have coached him to answer questions on exactly what Trump knew about the hush money for Daniels. Was there discussion in the Trump Organization about whether campaign finance laws were knowingly ignored? Cohen’s answer to that will be ‘chilling,’ she says. Cockburn hears that Stormy Daniels herself and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, might well be in Washington tomorrow to enjoy this spectacle.
The bucket of excrement that Cohen is preparing to tip over the President’s head includes a pungent mix of allegations. A ‘knowledgeable source’ tells NBC that Cohen will describe Trump’s ‘lies, racism and cheating as a private businessman’. He will also provide ‘evidence of his old boss’s criminal conduct since becoming president’. What that ‘criminal conduct’ might be, exactly, is not specified by NBC but at the Oversight hearing, it will not be about Russia. That topic will be discussed behind closed doors at the two intelligence committees. Cohen has already told a court in New York a lot about his effort to get a Trump Tower built in Moscow and what ‘Individual 1’ – the President – knew about it. What more could he have to say to the committees that would mean the hearings had to be held in secret? Cockburn wonders if Cohen will talk about whether he did go to Prague to meet agents of the Kremlin, as is claimed in the Steele dossier.
Publicly, Cohen has continued to deny this, vociferously.
Cockburn has been told by one source outside the US that Cohen’s cell phone was used in the Czech Republic at the time the Steele dossier says he was there. Is Cohen lying to everyone, including Mueller? The US intelligence agencies would – immediately and effortlessly – have obtained any and all such cell phone records. So if ‘#Mueller knows everything!’ as Cohen tweets, could he be telling the truth about never having been to Prague? Or is he being allowed to maintain his story to help Mueller set a perjury trap for Trump? The FBI does not usually tell witnesses to lie in the media, whatever the demands of an investigation. But perhaps an allegation that the President of the United States is a Russian agent is serious enough to allow an exception to this rule. Another source said that at one point, Cohen was ‘wearing a wire’ for Mueller’s investigators – if so, who was he taping? He saw the President rarely and not at all after his arrest.
Cohen’s jail sentence has been postponed by two months. The official explanation given for this is to let him have shoulder surgery (because judges are sympathetic that way). In fact, Cockburn has been told the real purpose is to allow Cohen to give more evidence to Congress after this week, if required. One source thought this was because President Trump could arrange to deny permission for Cohen to leave prison to testify once his sentence begins. Cohen is showing up on Capitol Hill now after a delay of several weeks – one theory is that this was to ensure he did not compromise the ongoing investigation. At the same time, Mueller could not allow Cohen to go before a Congressional committee and perjure himself (again.). He knew the two committees would have to ask about Prague…this was where ‘collusion’ was supposed to have taken place – if ‘collusion’ there was. Should Cohen change his story now, it will surely leak.
The White House line is that Cohen is a ‘disgraced felon’ and a ‘convicted liar’ not worth listening to. Even so, Cockburn – foolish optimist – would like to believe that the truth about Prague – and with it the truth about the whole Russia ‘conspiracy’ – will now start to emerge from the fog.