President Trump, on his way to the annual G20 meeting in Argentina, had his former lawyer and longtime Trump organization chief Michael Cohen approached, calling him a liar and calling him weak for working with the government , He complimented "others" who had refused to do so – an obvious reference to his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and longtime buddy Roger Stone – an extraordinary commentary made by the formally responsible man of the Department of Justice ,
As Salons Amanda Marcotte pointed out in this summary of events of the week, Trump was on the surprising guilty plea filed by Cohen on Thursday, in which he admitted that he had lied about his business dealings with Russia on Trump's behalf presidential campaign. Trump had finally opted for a long-awaited reunion with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Buenos Aires, and this latest news would make it just a little uncomfortable.
Trump canceled the planned meeting with the Russian President, citing the constant confrontation with Ukraine. Nobody believes that was the reason. Trump was also unusually grumpy and subdued at the summit, though he and Putin still managed to squeeze in a facial expression. (No one knows, as usual, what they've talked about, though it's not hard to guess.) He signed the new NAFTA treaty and had a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom he boasts, as the largest trade agreement in history But experts say this is just an agreement to talk about, apart from a promise to control the export of fentanyl. As with the North Korean "deal", it is a lot of talk and flattery for Trump to feel like a real president.
It was obvious that Trump's heart was not in it. He was still obsessed with the Cohen claim on Saturday morning:
… Put zero money, no guarantees, and have not completed the project. Witch hunt!
̵1; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2018
He finished his scheduled press conference for which he should be grateful. They never end well for him. It would almost certainly have raised many questions about the current state of the investigation, including the very interesting memorandum submitted by Michael Cohen's lawyers on Friday evening in anticipation of Cohen's sentencing this year. It seems that this was the first of its kind in the entire Russia scandal, and it seems that it was made by competent defense lawyers.
First, it explains why Cohen did not seek a cooperation agreement that was reached by others such as Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and the aborted Manafort deal. He turned out to speak with Mueller's office before pleading guilty to the hoax case and has been doing so ever since. Not only that, he continues to cooperate with the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Attorney General of the State of New York in an investigation by the Trump Foundation and the tax authorities in New York. Cohen was busy.
He did not ask for a formal cooperation agreement because his lawyers apparently convinced him that the smarter step was voluntary and preventive cooperation to begin his sentence as soon as possible. The memorandum suggests that prosecutors are convinced that they will continue to cooperate and intend to do so. Whether this is true or not, now that he has pleaded guilty to lying, most observers feel he has been "locked up" on the side of Russia's Mueller investigation plot. What Cohen lied about is remarkable, though Trump has called it "easy to look at building a building in Russia," while he insulted the Russian president in the election campaign and the Russian government sabotaged his opponent in his name.
Cohen's guilty request to lied to the congress has also opened a huge box of worms to a number of people who came to congressional committees. Cohen admits he "stood in close and regular contact with White House staff and legal counsel to Client-1 [Donald Trump]" before making statements that he now admits were false. There is much evidence that others have done the same thing. North Carolina State Secretary Richard Burr, Republican chairman of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee, said the committee had referred a lot of them to the Justice Department. It is an open question whether or not these witnesses were discussed with the staff and legal counsel of the President.
However, not only can you blame White House staff when many people lied to the committees, especially the House Intelligence Committee, whose outgoing GOP majority acted as the president's agent and helped cover up. As Salons Sophia Tesfaye noted this weekend, the unethical behavior of the GOP leadership, voiced by House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes, said anyone who testified that they could lie with impunity. In fact, the Partisan Report "Nunes & # 39; Committee issued the exemption of the President and relieved the witnesses, since none was referred to the Ministry of Justice."
That does not mean that they are clear. The incoming Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee – Adam Schiff of California and Jerry Nadler of New York – made it clear that on Sunday morning it became clear that they intend to hand over all the testimony to the Special Report, the Republican have rejected. In fact, Nunes and his colleagues who were Trump's followers, ready to negotiate with the White House on behalf of the President, may have created a sense of false security for prominent witnesses such as Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Eric Prince, all soon You might find yourself in the sort of hot water that Cohen has just taken out.
Both chairmen had ominous words for Trump and his circle. Nadler pointed out that Trump's Trump Tower deal had given the Kremlin "influence" on the president, and wondered if Putin was still using it. Schiff said Trump and his business were obviously "compromised". Of course there are many more questions.
Remember, a key partner in this Trump Tower deal everyone lied about was a shadowy character named Felix Sater, who has lurked on the brink of Trump's career for decades. Sater told Michael Cohen when they put the deal together:
I arranged for Ivanka to sit in his private armchair at Putin's desk and office in the Kremlin. I will win Putin for this program and we will put Donald to the polls. I know how to play it and we will do it. Buddy, our boy can become President of the USA and we can construct him. I'll get the whole Putin team to get involved.
Maybe that was just salesmanship, as Michael Cohen originally claimed. But nobody has ever adequately explained the mindset that connects a Trump Tower deal in Moscow with the election of Trump as president. I suspect Schiff and Nadler will call Felix Sater to fill in the gaps.
Heather Digby Parton
Heather Digby Parton, aka "Digby," is an author of Salon. She was the winner of the Hillman Prize 2014 for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.
Heather Digby Parton
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