If Michael Cohen was telling the truth Wednesday when he testified before the House Government Oversight Committee, President Donald Trump may stand accused of as many as FIVE felonies.
Now, that is a pretty big IF.
Huuuge to use Trump’s own word.
Michael Cohen was back testifying before Congress Wednesday because he lied the last time he was there, perjuring himself, a crime for which he will soon report to federal prison.
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Of course, Cohen never actually used most of the legal words for the charges or suggested specific crimes Trump might have committed. It does not work that way. He told what he knew and let the actions speak for the themselves.
So, what did Cohen claim Trump did?
- Committed conspiracy to defraud the United States.
According to Cohen, Trump took a phone call from Roger Stone in which Stone informed Trump that Julian Assange had just told him that Wikileaks was preparing a massive email release that would destroy Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes. Trump took the call on speaker, with Cohen in the room. As reports had already come out that Russian operatives had hacked the servers of the Democratic National Committee, and that Wikileaks was in possession of said hacked information, it follows that Trump could connect the dots and should have known the emails being discussed were the same ones.
- Committed perjury or is guilty of lying to the FBI and the Justice Department.
Trump has repeatedly denied having advance information about the Russian hack or the Wikileaks dump ahead of the news breaking publicly, and it has been reported he stipulated such in his written answers to questions submitted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. If he knew upfront and testified otherwise? Big mistake.
- Suborning perjury.
This one is a little trickier. As previously noted, Michael Cohen committed perjury. He did not testify in this new hearing that Trump specifically TOLD him to lie. He used words like encouraged and effectively said that given their long-term relationship and their understanding of each other, Trump’s hints at what would be the best way to testify amount to an indirect order. On one hand, I would say not to this theory. But think about it this way: Trump has always fancied himself a gangster, more specifically, the mob boss of the real estate business. If the boss tells the muscle to “take care of the problem” and in the past that has always meant having someone whacked, that the boss never said to kill a guy might not hold up as a defense.
- Violating campaign finance laws.
This one is not exactly new, but there are new twists. Cohen reiterated his prior statements that Trump told him to pay off Stormy Daniels, that Cohen used his own money from a home equity line, and that Trump later reimbursed him. But today Cohen added that part of the repayment happened after Trump was already president, was paid from Trump’s personal checking account, and that Donald Trump Jr. paid a portion from a different account which could lead to felony charges against Don the son as well as Don the father.
- Trump is more like Paul Manafort, or Manafort is more like Trump.
Cohen testified that Donald Trump committed bank, wire and tax fraud by inflating his assets (when he needed to show more collateral for loans) and deflated his assets (to avoid paying taxes). Paul Manafort was convicted of the same scheme. Manafort will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for his offense.
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Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, of course, denied Trump did anything wrong. Giuliani also took some personal swipes at Cohen, suggested Cohen might be linked to the Russian mob, and noted how Cohen’s dad had staked him with millions of dollars when her was just starting out. Wow, project much, Rudy?
That sounds a lot more like your client.
Only time (and maybe Mueller or the Southern District of New York) will tell if Trump faces charges for his alleged behavior. But now we all know what he stands accused of.