Thanks, Michael Cohen! NO, REALLY!
Michael Cohen, you handsome devil! COME ON DOWN! Let's lawsplain that Information and Plea Agreement you entered into yesterday. And since it's Friday (and we are FRIED-AY, ba-dum-TSSS), let's do it Top 5 Style.
1. Says Who?
Back in August, Michael Cohen walked into the federal courthouse in Manhattan and pleaded guilty to various tax and campaign finance violations. But he wasn't yet a cooperating witness with a deal. He still had to spend a lot of quality time spilling his guts to Robert Mueller and a whole bevy of law men from various federal agencies.
Do you know how hard it is to coordinate schedules for Stan and Angela from FINCEN, Steve, Mike and Susan from the IRS, five faceless dudes from CIA, a minyan from SDNY who take off half of September for some kind of holiday, and FIFTEEN ANGRY DEMOCRATS from the Special Counsel's Office?
But they finally managed to get it done. And after a one million hour proffer session, Michael Cohen managed to tell the government about almost all the crimes in Trumpland. ALLEGEDLY. So now he's pleading to a Level 4 Offense, and the government will agree to recommend a two-level sentencing reduction, which puts him at 0-6 months.
Assuming Cohen plays it straight, unlike Paul Manafort, it's all upside for him. He was already going to jail for years for crimes he pleaded to in August, and having Robert Mueller tell the judge what a very good boy he's been might shave some time off what he already owes the government.
2. But Isn't Cohen a Total Liar?
Indeed, he is. Readers of this here mommyblog spent two whole years watching him lie his ass off about the various misadventures of Donald Trump's wandering wiener, his hinky finances, and all the Russians in Trumpland. If Michael Cohen told you today was Friday (TG!), you'd seek a second opinion. So why is he getting such a sweetheart deal from Robert Mueller?
Well, the guy does tend to keep receipts. He sends incriminating text messages to guys like Felix Sater talking about getting Putin on board with building the Trump Tower Moscow, as published in Buzzfeed.
He sends text messages to "opposing" counsel coordinating appearances of porn stars on Fox "News" to help a presidential campaign.
He tape records HIS OWN BOSS talking about using corporate money to buy damaging stories from the National Enquirer in violation of campaign finance law. If Mueller intends to use the testimony of a guy who's pleading guilty to lying to Congress, you can be damn sure he's got the receipts.
Case in point, this description of Cohen's phone call with Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov's assistant.
Let's take a wild shot in the dark that Mueller's not relying on Michael Cohen's memory alone when he puts in a court filing, "Assistant 1 asked detailed questions and took notes, stating that she would follow up with others in Russia."
3. But What About Meatball?
Matthew Whitaker may be a hacky idiot who sells Big Dick Johns and flogs inventor scams, but he's not CRAZY. And he was a federal prosecutor, so, unlike the Trumpland incompetents, he's unlikely to stumble into a major crime by accident -- like, say massive violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for example. We're betting his first day at DOJ went something like this.
The DOJ has steadfastly refused to answer questions about the internal ethics opinion on Whitaker's recusal, causing prominent lawyers to assume that he was already sticking a shiv in the Mueller investigation.
DOJ spox "decline to comment" on whether the acting Attorney General has followed promise to seek ethics advice reg… https://t.co/57EgxOjnpI— Susan Hennessey (@Susan Hennessey) 1543425814.0
But what if, faced with a sea of dumpster fires, Meatball did some back of the napkin calculation and worked out that a future Democratic AG/Congress/Senate might take a harsh view of a man who barged in and put his meat paws all over the biggest criminal investigation in 50 years. A future Attorney General Newsom might even characterize it as OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. Perhaps Whitaker looked at the DOJ's skeptical evaluation of his ethical position and decided to keep his head down and wait out the storm, as Jeff Sessions had done before him. Because if Fox News doesn't tell the Couch Potato in Chief that his Acting AG recused, did it ever really happen?
All that is speculation, of course. But this is not.
That's Michael Cohen expressly agreeing to let all further proceedings against him take place in the
Sovereign Southern District of New York. Does Meatball want to travel to New York in the winter? NAH.
4. Donald Trump, Call Your Lawyer! (Not Rudy, A Real One.)
You, too, DJ! Rudy Giuliani shared his #Thoughts on Michael Cohen's reliability with NPR.
"Michael Cohen is a liar," Giuliani said. "It's no surprise that Cohen lied to Congress. He's a proven liar who is doing everything he can to get out of a long-term prison sentence for serious crimes of bank and tax fraud that had nothing to do with the Trump Organization."
Interestingly, Giuliani told the New York Times that Trump's recent answers to Mueller's questions lined up perfectly with THAT LIAR Michael Cohen's.
"The president said there was a proposal, it was discussed with Cohen, there was a nonbinding letter of intent and it didn't go beyond that," said Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump's lawyers, who with others negotiated the president's responses to Mr. Mueller's questions for nearly a year. He said prosecutors did not raise certain details that Mr. Cohen now says he misled Congress about — including how long the hotel project stayed alive — and that the president did not volunteer those details.
Assume for the moment that the president was actually truthful in his answers to Mueller -- it could happen. But do his answers line up with those of his dipshit son, who testified before Congress that the Trump Tower Moscow project "died of deal fatigue" in 2015? Because if they don't, someone is in deep shit right now.
5. So, Now What?
Now we wait. But Mueller's got Cohen's cooperation, he's got whatever information he gleaned from Manafort before their deal went south, he's got Flynn, he's got Sater (who is clearly talking), he's got Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg, he's got David Pecker, he's got Dylan Howard, he's got Maria Butina, he's got RIck Gates, and he's got every piece of digital data these idiots ever touched. AND THAT'S JUST THE PART THE PUBLIC KNOWS ABOUT. If we had to guess, we'd say Mueller's got Don Jr. by the short and curlies, too, but only time will tell.
This was a good week. Wonkette, out.
[Cohen Information / Cohen Plea Agreement / NPR / New York Times]
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.