Of all of President Trump’s former associates who have come under scrutiny in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, his former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, has undertaken perhaps the most surprising and risky legal strategy.
Mr. Cohen has twice pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to a litany of crimes, and he has volunteered information to the special counsel and other agencies investigating Mr. Trump and his inner circle. He did all this without first obtaining a traditional, ironclad deal under which the government would commit to seeking leniency on Mr. Cohen’s behalf when he is sentenced on Dec. 12.
Mr. Cohen has concluded that his life has been utterly destroyed by his relationship with Mr. Trump and his own actions, and to begin anew he needed to speed up the legal process by quickly confessing his crimes and serving any sentence he receives, according to his friends and associates, and analysis of documents in the case.
He has told friends that he is mystified that he is taking the fall for actions he carried out on behalf of Mr. Trump, who remains unscathed. Still, he is resigned to accepting responsibility.
.. Mr. Cohen’s commitment to Mr. Trump began to wane after a highly publicized F.B.I. raid on his home, office and hotel room in April. Last July, he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News he was seeking “resolution.” Asked if he would provide prosecutors information about Mr. Trump in return for leniency, Mr. Cohen replied, “I put family and country first.”
.. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in Manhattan to eight felonies — including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and making false statements to a bank
.. Cooperating witnesses are often not sentenced until investigations are completed, months or even years later. Mr. Cohen was concerned that signing a deal would delay his sentencing, his lawyers explained in their filing on Friday.
.. “Thus, the necessity, at age 52, to begin his life virtually anew, including developing new means to support his family, convinced Michael to seek an early sentence date, fully understanding that this court will determine the timing under which his efforts to rebuild will commence,” the memorandum said.
Mr. Cohen’s lawyers said that their client began meeting with Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors as early as Aug. 7, even before his first guilty plea in New York. He ultimately met with the special counsel’s office seven times through November.
.. Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School, called Mr. Cohen’s maneuver “an unusual and creative way to get what he wants out of a situation that’s unorthodox.”
.. “Tying it up in a bow gives Cohen the best chance at getting significant credit for his cooperation — and a good sentence.”
legal experts are calling Monday’s missives a newsworthy development that amounts to evidence of obstructing justice.
Trump’s first statement went out after Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney who pleaded guilty last week for lying to Congress about the president’s real estate project in Russia. In his tweet, Trump alleged that Cohen lied to Mueller and called for a severe penalty, demanding that his former fixer “serve a full and complete sentence.”
.. After the overt attack on Cohen came a tweet encouraging Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump, not to become a witness against him:
.. “We’re so used to President Trump transgressing norms in his public declarations,” Eisen said, “but he may have crossed the legal line.”
.. Respected figures across party lines also responded to Trump’s tweets on the social media platform.
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) called it “serious,” adding that “the President of the United States should not be using his platform to influence potential witnesses in a federal investigation involving his campaign.”
.. Attorney George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, referenced the federal statute most likely to create legal liability for Trump: 18 U.S.C. §§ 1512, which outlines the crime of witness tampering.
I think Trump has regretted becoming President from the moment he knew he had won on election night. I don’t think Trump thought he had any more chance of winning than anybody else did, which is to say unlikely in the extreme. Trump probably understood winning would have consequences, but I don’t think he really understood them. Trump is not someone who carefully thinks through the possible consequences of his actions. It can be taken for granted Trump knew there would be consequence, because at least Cohen, and his Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg would have sat him down and explained to him that even running for President was drawing a dangerous amount of attention to himself, let alone winning. Given how Trump has historically gone about doing business, he can not afford close scrutiny.
I think on one level Trump is loving being President, it is the ultimate ego boost, he probably likes the pomp and ceremony. although the fact he has to go to Paris to get a military parade, with real tanks and missiles must be driving him nuts. He isn’t enjoying the constant mockery, he hates that everybody is always critical of everything he does, he hates the complexity of a job he can’t get his head around, and he really hates that he can’t just order everybody about. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he really did believe he would be able to lock up Hillary with no more processes than an executive order.
Add to all that he has the Mueller investigation, the New York’s Southern District investigation. He’s lost his compliant congress, come January Congress is going to be making his life miserable, and I think you can expect to see these investigations multiplying. Plus all his old business colleagues are going to be turning on him, Cohen already has, and Allen Weisselberg probably has as well.
At some point, if he isn’t already, Trump is going to be thinking that the only way he can survive this is to follow in Xi Jinping’s footsteps and make himself President for life, Trump’s problem he is not even remotely in Xi Jinping’s league. Trump has surrounded himself with the foolish, the greedy, and the outright stupid. The problem is that Trump is stupid enough, and perhaps desperate enough he might conceivably try it. If that day ever does come, the opportunists, and grifters will savage each other getting to the exits, the real danger for Trump and the office is going to be in the fools he has surrounded himself with. While what in effect would be an attempted coup will have zero chance of ever actually working, and it would probably end up having all the elements of a farce, the precedent could still end up being very damaging.
So yes I would put good money on the fact that Trump spends a lot of his time feeling sorry for himself, and wishing that he gotten a handful less votes in the right places. Maybe he even wishes he hadn’t taken that ride down his golden elevator.
President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has reportedly spoken to prosecutors in the Mueller probe for hours, about collusion, Russia, business and pardons. This reporting suggests he is a cooperating convict, as he awaits sentencing in New York and means that each of the 5 guilty Trump aides, are now working with Bob Mueller.