Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen reportedly spent 70 hours being questioned by the special counsel. And if the questioning tactics were as abusive as those described by Jerome Corsi, there’s no telling what they got him to say. Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to one count of lying to Congress about what they’re calling “the Moscow project,” Trump’s exploratory efforts to build a Trump Tower hotel in Moscow. Cohen had told Congress that discussions ended in January of 2016, but he later told the special counsel that they went on for several more months, while Trump was running for President.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The discussions, I mean. They were perfectly legal. Lying to Congress, that’s wrong.
BuzzFeed put out a story that has been slammed by Trump as false --- it wouldn’t be the first time BuzzFeed has run “fake news” --- that as part of the negotiations, the Trump Organization planned to give Vladimir Putin the $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower Moscow, as a way to induce Russian oligarchs to live there.
According to a report from FOX News’ John Roberts, a spokesperson close to the President said that Trump has never heard of any such deal and that the story was “nuts.”
Not only did the Trump people not consider the absurd “Vlad’s penthouse” deal, but the entire hotel project fell through. It never got beyond the talking stage. The Trump Organization never invested any money and, in fact, has no buildings in Russia at all.
“He’s lying about a project that everybody knew about,” Trump said on Thursday. “I mean, we were very open with it. We were thinking about building a building...I decided ultimately not to do it. There would’ve been nothing wrong if I DID do it.” He noted that Cohen was facing a long prison sentence and was trying to offer something to the special counsel that would shorten that.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani essentially echoed what Trump said, making it clear that Cohen’s serious crimes of bank and tax fraud have nothing to do with the Trump Organization. I would add that with such serious crimes and also with lying to Congress, he’s not a very impressive witness for the special counsel.
Cohen probably assumed that, compared with what the special counsel could do to him, a charge of lying to Congress would be no big deal, and who could blame him? Think of all the people who have lied to Congress or an investigative body and were never even prosecuted; here are some of them: Hillary Clinton, her aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe (who at least was fired over it), Christopher Steele, and Bruce Ohr of the DOJ and/or Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS. Everyone who assisted in creating and submitting the FISA application and its three renewals was lying, too. And there are many more. Prosecutions for this are so rare that in the 60-year period ending in 2007, only six people have faced charges for lying to Congress.
Apparently, this law is kept in reserve to prosecute political enemies. Like anybody who worked for Donald Trump.
Also, as Alan Dershowitz pointed out on Wednesday’s Sean Hannity show, the very thing that would be called a bribe if you or I offered it is dangled by prosecutors before witnesses all the time. To get the testimony they want, they offer gifts of shorter sentences, probation instead of jail time, visits with family, etc. Also, the special counsel is supposed to be going after crimes that occurred in the past, but “instead, he is facilitating and incentivizing the (new) crimes (of lying) by creating these perjury traps” that, ironically, can only be sprung by a lie. And in this case, the lies have nothing to do with the President.
Dershowitz warned that Mueller’s report will be “based on the testimony of people who have lied and have not been cross-examined.” He says that even without evidence of actual crimes committed by Trump, it will be put together in a way that is “devastating” unless it is simultaneously rebutted. Trump’s lawyers must demand that the Justice Department not allow the release of the Mueller report until they’ve had a chance to go through it and write a rebuttal. (That sounds good, but in the real world, Mueller's report is bound to leak.)
According to Dershowitz, Mueller has come up with nothing criminal so he’s focusing on “political sins,” like using information that somebody else (WikiLeaks) leaked or stole, or talking about building a hotel in Moscow, There’s nothing unlawful about any of that. When it comes down to it, the only crimes Mueller has found are those he himself has helped facilitate by getting witnesses to lie in front of investigators. In other words, if there weren’t a special counsel, there would be no crimes! Yet he needs those lies to further his narrative.
As for the timing of Mueller’s announcement about Cohen, reporter John Solomon finds it quite significant, theorizing that the special counsel waited until Trump had turned in the written answers to his questions and he saw that he hadn’t caught the President in a perjury trap (sad trombone). Trump had answered every question in a way that was consistent with the evidence, so Mueller turned to “cleaning up” the Cohen part of the investigation.
Andrew McCarthy at NATIONAL REVIEW deduces from this latest guilty plea that Mueller is scrutinizing Trump’s business connections to Russia. Trump has made it clear that he has nothing to do with Russia --- “no deals, no loans, nothing!” He’s been very open about this, saying the only business he’s had were some condo sales and one big real estate deal in Florida in which he bought a mansion for $40 million and sold it to a Russian oligarch for $100 million. (In case you didn’t know, “oligarch” means “rich guy.”)
McCarthy also notes that Cohen has not been charged with any offense relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election. He thinks the place Mueller is headed now is the infamous Trump Tower meeting that included Don Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskya. He still thinks that meeting may have been a set-up --- that Putin played the Trump campaign by getting them to take a meeting in the hope of getting dirt on Hillary, which compromised candidate Trump. Strategically, that would have given him an advantage in later negotiations with a President Trump.
One can only imagine what Putin might have had on Hillary to hold over her head if she had become President. Wow, did our country dodge a bullet on that one. But I digress.
If you want to get “into the weeds” on the attention being given to the Trump Tower meeting, McCarthy has the details, at the link.
LEAVE ME A COMMENT BY CLICKING HERE. I READ THEM!