This is trending on the ever-informative currentstatus.io but I’m posting it here, too, in case you missed it. This is a huge, huge deal. If corroborated, it is a true “smoking gun” for obstruction of justice by Trump.
Yesterday, we learned that Michael Cohen lied to Congress about when the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations ended. Cohen testified to Congress that the talks ended in January, 2016, before the Iowa caucuses, but he has now admitted they extended into June.
Did Cohen lie to Congress on his own or did he coordinate the lies with Trump? This breaking news today points to the latter – and, if substantiated, is a clear act of obstruction of justice by the President.
On some forums I’ve been following, Trump supporters are dismissing Cohen’s claims and any involvement by the President, calling it all lies, smoke, and mirrors. But here’s the thing – this will be relatively easy to clear up. Trump’s lawyers can simply be subpoenaed (along with their written records) and asked under oath if they helped coordinate Cohen’s lies to Congress along with Trump. Attorney-client privilege does not apply when a lawyer and client conspire together to commit a crime (in this case, obstruction of justice).
There is no way that Trump’s lawyers will commit perjury and risk going to prison to protect Trump – they just work for him, they are not his buddies and they owe him nothing. They will take a page from John Dean, Nixon’s White House Counsel, who committed obstruction of justice with him and flipped on him in a heart beat for a reduced sentence.
In fact, the Watergate parallels here are almost uncanny. Don McGahn is today’s John Dean. McGahn was Trump’s White House Counsel during the time Cohen testified before Congress so all eyes will now be on him. There’s a chance he won’t even need to be subpoenaed on this matter because he may have already flipped – he has had extensive discussions with Mueller’s team.
And here’s the strongest reason to believe that Trump really did obstruct justice along with Cohen: look at what happened to Manafort when he lied to Mueller – bang! – Mueller threw the book at him. Now consider what Cohen is doing. In his filing asking for leniency from the court, he is claiming that he coordinated with Trump and his lawyers to obstruct justice – there’s no way he would risk lying about this in a court filing, knowing that Mueller probably already gathered independent evidence on the matter – and having seen what happened to Manafort.
Side question: If McGahn did commit crimes with Trump, could that impact Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court? It was McGahn who personally recommended that Kavanaugh be nominated and he coordinated the White House campaign for the confirmation. On the surface, obstruction of justice in the Trump/Russia matter would not appear to be related to a Supreme Court nomination, but these days, with this Administration, anything seems possible.
President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said Friday he was in “close and regular contact” with Trump’s White House staff and legal team when he prepared a statement for Congress that he now says falsely downplayed Trump’s effort to land a Trump Tower Moscow deal during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In a filing seeking a lenient sentence, Cohen’s attorneys say his false statement to Congress — which Cohen pleaded guilty to on Thursday — was based on Trump and his team’s efforts to “portray contact with Russian representatives” by Trump, his campaign or his company “as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016.”
“Seeking to stay in line with this message, Michael told Congress that his communications and efforts to finalize a building project in Moscow on behalf of the Trump Organization, which he began pursuing in 2015, had come to an end in January 2016, when a general inquiry he made to the Kremlin went unanswered,” Cohen’s lawyers Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester write.
But “Michael had a lengthy substantive conversation with the personal assistant to a Kremlin official following his outreach in January 2016, engaged in additional communications concerning the project as late as June 2016, and kept [Trump] apprised of these communications,” they wrote. “He and [Trump] also discussed possible travel to Russia in the summer of 2016, and Michael took steps to clear dates for such travel.”
They also say Cohen kept Trump “apprised” of his contacts with Russia during the campaign.