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OK, the news is officially stupid, because we are pretty sure we are watching a proxy battle, between Michael Cohen and his lawyers on one side and Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani on the other side, over who was the first one to bring up the word "pardon." Did the Trump team approach Michael Cohen after he got FBI-raided and slyly communicate that as long as Cohen stayed loyal to the family, things would work out fine for him? Did Cohen drag his blanky to the front door of the White House and ring the doorbell over and over, crying "MIS-TURRRR TWUMP! I GOTTA MAKE STINKY AND ALSO CAN YOU GIVE ME A PAW-DUN?"

Who. The. Fuck. Knows.


Last Wednesday, Michael Cohen very specifically said (under oath) that he had not asked for a pardon (past tense) and that he would not accept one (conditional verb that exists in the present and/or the future, hypothetically, ALLEGEDLY). He also said, upon being questioned about his most recent contacts with Trump, Trump's lawyers, or representatives of Trump, that he couldn't really talk about it because it was something that was being investigated by the Southern District of New York.

Then, this weekend, little birdies whose names maybe rhyme with Judy Riuliani started whispering into the Wall Street Journal's ear and saying that yes, Cohen's former lawyer Stephen Ryan approached the Trump team about a pardon all those many months ago.

On Wednesday, a flood of stories came out, all with vaguely competing narratives about who asked for what and when, and whose idea pardons were. ABC News reported that soon after the raid, a couple lawyers who said they were in cahoots with Rudy Giuliani contacted Cohen and pressured him to stay on Team Trump, to remain in the joint defense agreement he was in with Trump, or if he decided to leave it, to hire THEM as his lawyers, so they could still secretly do back channel reacharounds with the Giuliani and the Trump team. As this story tells it, these lawyers didn't say the words, "Trump will pardon you," but rather just left an "implicit" impression that if Cohen stayed loyal to Trump, that would be a #GoodThing. These lawyers -- who really come off in the story like at least one of them is named "Tiny," but the joke is that he is 6-foot-7 and very big and fat, DO YOU GET IT? -- also were reportedly not pleased when Cohen left the joint defense agreement and hired Guy Petrillo, a former SDNY guy whom Team Trump apparently views as ENEMY. But they still reportedly maybe thought they should still join Cohen's legal team, you know, for the Giuliani reacharounds. Cohen did not hire them, but they still billed Cohen, because why wouldn't Tiny (and Tony) from Tony & Tiny, Attorneys-At-Law And Muffler Shop, LLC, PLC, send Cohen a bill? That's just how law is done. (ABC News says SDNY now has that bill from Tiny and Tony, and also all the other receipts from this.)

ABC News tried to get Rudy Giuliani to comment on this shit, but he mumbled some bullroar about "attorney-client privilege" and declined to discuss it, while making clear that he wants to discuss it, if only Cohen will waive attorney-client privilege, mm hmm, YOU BETCHA.

On yeah, and it turns out the lawyers are actually called Robert Costello and Jeffrey Citron, as reported later on Wednesday by the New York Times and later confirmed by ABC News, but we dunno which one is "Tiny" and which one is "Tony":

Costello said the story is "not accurate," but declined to be more specific "until I am convinced the attorney-client privilege has been waived. Unless Michael Cohen has waived attorney client privilege, I am prohibited from making any comment about this."

Michael Cohen reportedly discussed Tiny and Tony with the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday too. Which brings us to yet another story that came out Wednesday in the Washington Post, about Cohen's closed door testimony, where he apparently also implicated Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow:

Cohen told lawmakers [...] that he also spoke about a pardon with Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow, according to four people familiar with his statements, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

In a terse statement to The Washington Post earlier Wednesday, Sekulow flatly denied Cohen's allegation, calling it "not true" — and declining to elaborate further.

And then late last night, the Wall Street Journal published a story that said actually Cohen asked his lawyer after the FBI raid to talk to Trump's people about a pardon, but it doesn't count because Trump's people had already been dangling a pardon in public. The source for this story was Cohen's current lawyer Lanny Davis, who said the approach was made, that Trump's lawyers said NO PARDON, NO PARDON, but that Rudy Giuliani "left open the possibility" that Trump could one day look at Cohen and say YOU ARE THE PARDON.

"During that time period, [Cohen] directed his attorney to explore possibilities of a pardon at one point with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as other lawyers advising President Trump," Mr. Davis said. He referred to the discussions with the president's lawyers as the "ongoing 'dangling' of a possible pardon by Trump representatives privately and in the media."

Davis made similar comments to the New York Times, that no matter how you look at it, Trump and Giuliani were the danglers, and Cohen was the person getting sexts of their dangles.

"At that point in time, when he was still part of their club, he was willing to explore it," Mr. Davis said of Mr. Cohen. "Nothing came of it, and he got more frustrated that he was" being toyed with, he added.

The Post also got Lanny Davis on the record, and it was just a bunch more NSFW stuff about Trump and Giuliani dangling their dingles in public.

So which is correct? Fuck if we know! But it does pretty clearly sound like Cohen is hanging his hat on the technicality that he personally did not do the asking, and that his lawyers' entreaties came only after they had been dangled AT, just like Donald Trump is hanging his hat on the technicality that he did not personally tell Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, but rather communicated it through a series of winks, grunts and pussygrabs, because as Cohen explained last week, the crime boss never just says, "Go do this crime now!"

Davis moreover says Cohen DID NOT EITHER lie to Congress, because he was obviously talking about the time period after he allegedly decided to be a good person and stop lying for Trump. (That was not obvious.) Would it be a game-changer if Michael Cohen had asked Trump or Giuliani for a pardon back in those days when he was still part of the Trump Crime Tribe? Nah, not necessarily, so if he's lying about it now, the question is WHYYYYYYYYYY.

To be clear, no matter who dangled what, nobody looks good in this story, so if this is Team Trump doing "damage control," then we can safely say they are deploying "damage control" with the same level of skill they do everything else. Even in the original Wall Street Journal story, Rudy Giuliani, legal angel that he obviously is, was portrayed as leaving the possibility of a pardon open, even if he was (allegedly) saying "you just shush your mouth about pardons right now, young man!" Giuliani is saying to the media this week that he always told people's lawyers "no" on pardons until all the investigations are over, but that "whatever happens in the future, that is [Trump's] prerogative," and by "whatever happens," he means pardons. He tells everybody that. EVERYBODY!

Because that is the point here, and Michael Cohen (perhaps) lying to Congress AGAIN only serves to obscure it -- that throughout this entire process, President Unindicted Co-Conspirator and his hack legal team have been openly discussing pardons with legal counsel for people whose testimony could hurt President Unindicted Co-Conspirator. Former Trump lawyer John Dowd reportedly did it to lawyers for both Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. It's kind of their thing.

On the Rachel Maddow TV program Wednesday night, Vanity Fair Cohen reporter Emily Jane Fox said she's pretty sure the WHAR BOXES Cohen brought to Congress yesterday contained lots of records of communications with Trump's legal team. We know he was bringing receipts on their negotiations over Cohen's lie-testimony about the failed Moscow Trump Tower project, but we are sure hoping he brought the receipts on these pardon talks, because we are tired of this news cycle and we want it to die in a fire. Fox also kinda seemed to suggest all these muddy narratives out there about who dangled who are par for the course for Team Trump, which likes to try to leak bizarro world versions of stories in order to get out in front of them.

In summary and in conclusion, dingle dangle dongle GO TO JAIL ALL YOU MOTHERFUCKERS, WE HATE YOU SO MUCH.

[Wall Street Journal / ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the senior editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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