Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to an additional charge of lying to Congress. That guilty plea was part of the Justice Department investigation into Russian meddling into our election. On the face of it Cohen’s guilty plea looks like a simple admission that he lied to Congress about the timing of Trump’s involvement with Russians over the possible erection of a Trump Tower in Moscow. Instead of that negotiation ending in January of 2016, it continued until June of 2016.
Actually, this is a whopping big deal.
It is the tip of the iceberg that is coming for Trump and his family.
At the outset, Cohen naively sent an email to Putin’s general email box to query an interest in this Trump Tower Moscow idea which had been a dream of Trump’s for many years. Cohen originally told Congress that there was no response. That was not true. The Russians did respond to that inquiry. In fact, Putin’s assistant, Dmitry Peskov, responded. Communication ensued.
Cohen confessed that in his new guilty plea but there was more. He not only said the effort to put together a Trump Moscow deal continued until June 2016, but there were more extensive communications that he had with the Russians than he admitted to, and he did plan to travel to Russia unlike what he told Congress.
Cohen’s admission to these false statements under USC section 1001 has to be “material”, which means that what he is admitting to is important, not tangential, to the matter being investigated. Mueller has to have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of the underlying crime that we are seeing emerge here, or this plea would not have taken place. Because of that, I believe Cohen’s admission signals to us that Mueller has the goods on Trump’s larger conspiracy, the so called “collusion” between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian influence campaign that got Trump into office as president. There is interconnection between Russian action to meddle in our election and Trump’s hunger for a lucrative Trump Tower Moscow.
Why can we predict that?
Cohen has been talking with a combination of investigators in the SDNY, Mueller’s team and the New York AG’s Office for 70 hours. 70 hours is a long time to be talking with investigators. Mueller has clearly decided that Cohen has had a true change of heart and is going to be one of their star witnesses. That means his statements are matching up with the vast array of evidence that the investigators already obtained with other witnesses, emails and additional evidence we do not yet know. Testing Cohen’s statements for accuracy against the evidence already obtained has been an important litmus test that determined whether Mueller trusted what Cohen was saying. Cohen passed the truth test. Unlike Manafort, who had a sneaky back channel deal with Trump trying to pull a fast one on Mueller and get a pardon out of it from Trump, Cohen is now on team USA, (Team Mueller), and has left team Trump behind. This is huge. Because Cohen knows where the bodies are buried. Cohen was very close to Trump and his family for over a decade and he is determined to tell us the truth about what happened to the extent he knows it. And he knows a lot.
In his plea before the court we should note a few key elements. First, Mueller himself signed the plea agreement. Mueller is vouching for Cohen. That is a big deal. And Mueller is also willing to go after people who lie to Congress. He considers that fair game for his investigation and prosecution. Watch out, all you guys who have lied to Congress when Devin Nunes and the Republicans were in charge of the House Intel Committee. You are in trouble now. I’m looking at you, Trump Jr.
Some other people are going down too.
Individual 1 in Cohen’s plea agreement is Donald Trump. This plea agreement is the second time Trump has been named by Cohen as directly involved in a larger scheme to lie about something. The first time was the SDNY plea in open court that Cohen was directed to give hush money to certain women at Trump’s direction. This new guilty plea now ties Trump to the Russians and their activities that will be linked up to the presidential campaign.
Individual 2 in this guilty plea is Felix Sater, a convicted felon and Russian Mafia member, who promised to engineer a deal with Putin to get Trump elected. Sater, you might remember, was a close friend of Trump and was previously reported to have arranged for Ivanka Trump to sit in Vladimir Putin’s personal chair when she was visiting Russia. Kind of a big deal. Sater also said this, “We will get Donald elected. Our boy can become president of the United States.” He said he would be working with Putin’s people to get that done. We do not yet know if he did work with Putin’s people, but we are going to find out. Sater is said to be co-operating with Mueller.
Sater was well connected in Russia and he opened the door for Cohen to communicate with the Russians about a Trump Tower in Moscow, which could have been dangled by the Russians to get Trump more engaged with them at the time of the campaign. This Trump Tower had been an irresistible dream for Trump because it was supposedly going to be the tallest building in Europe. How could Trump turn his back on that?! Especially if he might lose the election for president. This would be his plan B if he lost.
But I think Russia could have been playing Trump. I think they were. Perhaps they never intended to erect this Trump Tower in Moscow and pay Trump millions for the use of his name on the building, but once he was running for president, they could certainly see Trump’s usefulness for Russian interests as a candidate. The usefulness had to do with eliminating sanctions. What better way to eliminate them then by having Trump himself want them to be erased and, if they all hit the jackpot and Trump got elected, then it would be win win for the Russians and for Trump. Why? Because for Trump to get the money for his proposed Trump Tower Moscow, the Russian bank that would pay him would need to be able to do so and that meant sanctions had to be removed. Trump’s interests aligned with the Russians during the campaign. They both wanted to defeat Hillary Clinton. They both wanted sanctions to be removed.
While Russia was meddling in our election with their troll farm social media attack and their cyber-attack hacking and bombing campaign to damage the Democrats, Trump was trying hard to land a big deal in Russia and campaigning to beat Hillary Clinton. He was secretly and systematically interacting with Putin’s office and lying to the American people about his connections with the Russians. We also just learned from Buzz Feed that the Trump Organization offered Putin a nifty free fifty million-dollar penthouse in the new Trump Tower Moscow. That was a bribe, plain and simple, to get the deal to happen because that is how it is done in Russia. The place is totally corrupt.
But then, so is Trump. He fits right in.
Trump and the Russians knew what was going on but the American people were kept in the dark to keep Trump’s chances to win the presidency alive. This also means that the Russians had compromised Trump. They had information about him he did not want revealed to the public. That’s how Russia rolls. They can get what they want in the world even as a second rate power, by the threat they hold over the person being manipulated.
Check out this timeline:
On June 9th the Trump Tower meeting happened where Trump Jr., Manafort, Kushner and others met with Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
June 9th -14th Sater is sending messages to Cohen about the Trump Tower Moscow development.
On June 14th the Russians hack the DNC then strategically release hacked material at key moments in concert with Trump’s exhortations in plain view from the podium of his campaign rallies. Out in the open. The best possible plausible deniability.
The only thing that stops the Trump Tower plan from going forward is that the press is getting wind of something fishy and an article comes out that threatens to reveal the secret deal. That kills the Trump Tower deal dead in its tracks.
In short, the Russian influence campaign attacking our election, and Trump’s pursuit of a Trump Tower in Moscow are intertwined. We will learn even more about how they are interconnected as Mueller’s expose continues.
Meanwhile, there has been concern about whether Matt Whitaker is hollowing out or damaging the Mueller investigation. He did not stop this most recent bombshell guilty plea by Cohen. Insiders report that Rod Rosenstein is still in charge of the investigation. Why would that be?
First, I think Matt Whitaker must realize that with the Dems taking charge of the House and with all the questionable baggage he brings from his past, that he is on really thin ice already in his role as acting AG. If he lifts his little finger to touch the Mueller investigation, he will be very very sorry. Lose his law license and go to jail sorry. He has been told that by Adam Schiff and others I am certain. He better keep his hands off the investigation if he knows what’s good for him.
In addition, it is my guess that inside the DOJ Whitaker is seen as a stooge, because he is. Whitaker is part of the obstruction of justice case that is coming for Trump. And he is probably being ignored, shunned and bypassed by the agents and prosecutors when it comes to anything involving the Mueller investigation and possibly other investigations as well. That is consistent with what we are hearing from inside sources right now.
As this investigation comes closer and closer to Trump, his family and inside circle, watch what the Republicans in Congress do over time because that will be the key to whether Trump can be impeached AND expelled. There is no doubt that he can and I think will be impeached by the House as more evidence comes out. There is ample evidence even now to impeach and expel him. But impeachment and expulsion is an act of political will. And so far the Republicans have been Trump’s enablers instead of acting as an independent branch of government.
The Senate is the question. We need 20 Republican Senators to join with the Democrats to put country over party loyalty in the Senate when it comes to getting rid of Trump. As the truth comes out we might get that. It depends on how damning the truth is and whether Republicans understand what will happen to the GOP if they do not reclaim the high ground.
We also need to have a campaign against Mitch McConnell. What do either Trump or the Russians have over that guy? Can it be that appointing right wing judges is all that drives him to be such a toadie to Trump? Mitch McConnell is going to go down in history as a traitor to our country.
Will Republicans come to their senses if they learn that Trump is the Manchurian president? Will they believe it when they learn that Trump was embroiled in a collaborative Russian plot to damage our country? According to Malcolm Nance, Trump was cultivated for many years by an ex-KGB operative. That is what Russians do with American businessmen. Trump was the perfect guy to cultivate too because he was and is so narcissistic and stupid, they could work with him and boost his candidacy to achieve their mutual goal – get Trump to be the president of the United States to damage our democracy. And so they did.
As we learn more and more about what happened to us, watch to see what Fox News does. Will that media outlet come on board with American interests or not? Watch Shepard Smith on Fox. He is telling the truth to Fox News watchers. Watch the other commentators to see how they handle this evolving truth coming out of the Mueller probe. And watch to see if Republicans start to distance themselves from Trump. That will be important to see if and when GOP Senators realize the train wreck that is coming will take them down with Trump. Notice that they turned against Trump on a Senate vote about Yemen. Notice that a racist judge was blocked by Flake and the only black Republican Senator, Tim Scott. Watch for Republicans to edge away from Trump.
The tide is turning. In the best case scenario Trump will lose power as the facts come out and when he loses power the Republicans will re-align to save themselves and that will make it possible to get Trump out of the presidency before his term is up. We shall see what happens next as the iceberg emerges.